Here’s a story familiar to many would-be founders: You are accepted into the college you wanted. You later are offered a good job. You were promoted faster than your colleagues. You also became the youngest presenter at the important meetings. Then you decided to get an advanced degree (i.e., an MBA).
Now, you are ten years into your career, and you have an idea for a new business. You feel confident because you have enough experience to run a business and you are young enough to work long, demanding hours.
If many people can relate, then why are there relatively so few thirty-something founders? It is really quite simple: With all of the historical success, it is hard not to become comfortable and forgo taking the risks that come with starting a business.
Success Can Be a Bad Thing
When you’re successful in your twenties, you start making different decisions than a entrepreneur would. You buy the nice car you see your friends buying. You pick a nice house in a good neighbourhood. You go to fancy restaurants and start to travel. You get married and maybe have a kid. After all, you are successful. Your friends at work are doing the same things.
The problem is, before you know it, you’re 30 years old with a killer idea, experience, and way too much overhead. You and your husband/wife can’t handle the idea of no salary or reduced salary. You already have s bond, student loans and car payments.
Tom Kuegler, a co-founder at Wasabi Ventures, calls this the Suckling Pig Theory. At least once a week, he talks to potential entrepreneurs who are too comfortable to leave their security behind.
So How Do You Take the Leap?
All is not lost. If you know your goal is to eventually launch a new business, you need to start preparing now. The medicine isn’t going to taste very good, but it’s pretty simple:
- Save your money — don’t buy that expensive car.
- Marry the right person. A supportive husband or wife can make or break a new business. Be upfront with them about your dream to be an entrepreneur. If they don’t run, they may be right for you.
- Before you make the leap, work at a new business. Big companies are not ideal breading grounds for potential entrepreneurs.
Eventually, you are also going to have to work two jobs: your normal job during the day and on your own business on nights and weekends. Do this for as long as possible to make sure your business is worth the risk.
The trick is not to let your early success sidetrack you. You can start your dream company 10 years into your career and your company will be better for it.