It’s not just about the money. It’s not just about making a dent in the world.
It is very much WHAT SORT OF DENT and WHERE YOU WANT TO MAKE IT. Ultimately, the answer boils down to WHO YOU ARE.
What do you like doing? How and when do you do your best work? What are you good at? Bad at?
In corporations, you usually pick a department or a function you think you can grow in. So as a green-behind-the-ears fresh graduate, the thinking would be a bit simplistic:
“uhm…I like people so HR might be the field for me”
“I like numbers so I’ll give finance a try”
It’s obviously not so simplistic.
It might be the right field, but not the right industry. It could be the right field and industry, but not the right company. Nor the right boss. Nor culture. Nor pay. Nor workmates. Nor morality. Nor a plethora of so many other things.
Some months ago I had lunch with a reader who finished near the top of his class in an IT course and promptly spent the next 10 or so years programming for large firms. I was just astonished at how direct he was in saying he completely hates it.
Now he’s on the path of reinvention.
In corporate, you always wind up conforming a bit – because no company or position will ever fit perfectly.
In startups, it’s a bit different.
A founder CREATES rather than conforms. She chooses the field she wants to operate in, chooses the battles she wants to be involved with. She chooses the people she wants to work with. She also chooses what role to take.
What should dictate these decisions is the founder’s knowledge of WHO SHE IS. If she creates a startup which makes money doing something she finds completely boring - then this quickly becomes torture, and soon, the entrepreneur will feel inevitably trapped.
The thing is, we usually need to experience things before we realize whether “this is me” or “this is not me.” This is why we end up trying out different companies, and even different careers throughout our corporate life.
In startups, it works a bit differently.
Logically, you will pursue opportunities and ideas which interest you. So hopefully, you are already building a startup densely populated with “this is me” elements.
As far as role is concerned, when you start, you do EVERYTHING in a startup. And oh boy, what a tremendous learning experience that is – because you find out SO much about yourself. From 10 years of doing HR in corporate, I suddenly did finance, marketing, sales, HR, operations, admin, and many more for STORM. Eventually, you find out more about yourself, and what you love doing. It’s like getting a job in a dozen different departments at the same time.
As your startup grows though, you can then slowly focus on the stuff you love. You can then change roles internally with a snap. You can hire for your gaps.
For example, if you find out that rocking the “startup CEO” role just isn’t your thing because you hate client work and only wish to work with numbers, then you could just hire a CEO or get a partner who can do that role. You can then work on your numbers.
If all you want to do is program, you could just get someone who can sell.
You can make it what you want. You can build around who you are.
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