He quit his job at a corporation, founded a startup, came back crying… On LinkedIn and in the media, we read fairytales of ex-corporate people who quit this lifestyle and achieved great success in the tech industry. Statistically, however, this is a fairly small percentage that distorts the picture – the rest end up on the verge of depression and return to their employer with their tail between their legs to make ends meet and start paying off their debts.
Why does that happen? Because the corporate world is radically different from the startup world. Someone thinks: I’ll finally have the freedom to make decisions without stupid superiors. True, now you’ll be dealing with customers, subordinates, and investors at the same time. Finance? When an attractive regular salary turns into a promise of profits in the distant future and the standard of living has to be lowered, the optics quickly change. Backlash? The pressure of getting an investor or finalizing a large contract in the face of a lack of funds to pay people – not to mention your own – is extremely stressful. No more rigid working hours? Sure, now you work almost non-stop and your private life merges with your professional life. And that’s just the beginning.
When thinking about changing the current model, it is worth considering the real consequences of such a decision. When we create a company from scratch, we start from scratch. Those who used to be our best friends in business suddenly don’t answer the phone because we don’t have anything left to spend with them. What’s more, we used to have a lot of money, but now we have to sell and make money. It’s no different with benefits – fruit Fridays, thirteens, a company car, suddenly changing to a banana at work, an irregular salary, and a bus. True, this is an extreme, but if you don’t have a lot of savings or a big investment at the beginning, that’s how it will be.
In a corporation, a failed project means no bonus, while the founder of a failed startup is extremely threatened with even losing their life’s work. It is hardly surprising that many people have this optimistic mindset about startups, since in the media even losers talk about how wonderful it is. Behind the scenes, however, one can see a completely different tendency – an honest exchange of reflections, – this should be the foundation for making such decisions.
Drastic changes in life can be beneficial, but a corporation’s golden handcuffs are effective in safeguarding against them. Before someone decides that they can’t stand it emotionally and quits the corporation overnight, it’s a good idea to verify beforehand whether things are really as rosy on the other side as they hear. If you are ready for it and you also assume a negative scenario in the form of failure, it is worth planning well and trying. If not, it’s better to take extra yoga classes or go on another vacation, appreciate corporate comfort, and focus on other aspects of life, – because sometimes coming back can be extremely difficult and painful.
The comment section had to add:
If you lose your job in a corporation, you are unemployed. But if you close your own company, there is nothing. There’s a need for a legal change here.
My personal experience is a little different. I started my professional career in a corporation. It was an interesting, but very stressful period for me, although I was basically working half-time. I even ended up with heart tests because I had physical symptoms of stress.
Then I started my own company. It was hard most of the time, a lot of problems, but the stress was never as high as it was in the corporate days. In my case, my own business worked better, also in terms of the comfort of life.
I’d like to add that sometimes making a decision about your own business can be a one-way ticket, because coming back to work full-time after a failure, or just tiredness, constant stressб and struggle for survival, is often not so straightforward. Such candidates are sometimes rejected at the start because they are too ambitious, too qualified, have too high financial expectations, too much individuality, there’s a risk that they will leave again, etc. Interestingly, these aspects are often only in the imagination of recruiters who close the door of a returning employee because of these conceptions.
A good way to find out what the world looks like from the startup side is to try investing as a business angel while still working. We practiced it with many people from the corporate side, and many have given up after such an experience. But a few people have switched to the startup side and are doing quite well.
I only gained comfort in running my own business when I stopped caring about money. Not because I had plenty of it, quite the opposite. I just worked it out in my head in the following way: we (me and my partner) are so experienced, knowledgeable and hard-working that even if it doesn’t work out, we will quickly come up with something new to earn this money. You just have to let it not work out. And react. It works for us.