Why I Would Choose the Startup Road All Over Again
It has been a little over a year since I turned down my full-time job offers to work on Practice Makes Perfect -- a nonprofit focused on partnering with schools and operating their summer programs in inner-city neighborhoods
Before putting this post together, I went through the list of articles on "The Grind" and realized they were loaded with advice on challenges. I figured, “that’s great, but being an entrepreneur is not all about challenges.”
In an attempt to inspire more people into entrepreneurship, I decided I would dedicate this column to talking about the great things that have kept me going. Let’s face it, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing it would be extremely hard to get by in a startup environment. Being an entrepreneur means assuming a lot of responsibility. There are definitely more positives than negatives that make this job worthwhile. Here are the six reasons why I would make the same decision all over again.
You get to pick your team. As an entrepreneur, you can't build a startup on your own. Eventually you will require other people, which means you have the opportunity to pick your team. Surrounding yourself with people you like is probably the most important piece of workplace satisfaction. This has been incredibly meaningful for me, because I have built my closest friendships post-graduation with the people that I am working with.
You get to build something. This part of the job was not very material to me a year ago. We had a name and an empty Dropbox. A year later, we have over a thousand files, a structure, a team and a brand. There is an incredible amount of satisfaction that comes from knowing that your hard work and time has amounted to something tangible. For me, it is the foundation my team has built for a company that we hope will last and continue to impact lives positively for years to come.
You own the relationships. Unless you take on a job as a relationship manager, you will be stuck doing work for people you will probably never meet or get to interact with. For some people that is fine. For me, I love meeting and interacting with people. I enjoy hearing about their stories and their journey. This makes the work you are engaged in that much more meaningful.
You dictate the culture. Here is your chance to decide how people feel when they come to work. What are the things you want people to think about when they hear about your company? This is your opportunity to create that. For me, culture is top of mind daily. We want to make sure that the smart people that have joined our team continue to find meaning, purpose and a place within our organization.
You learn a lot about yourself. I can't overstate how important this has been for me. Yes, your 20s are supposed to be a time where you make the most transformative changes to your identity. But, I think being transformative is second to running a company. If you are open to feedback and the ideas of others, you will learn a lot about who you are. I can’t imagine how I lived my life not fully understanding some of the things I know about myself today. The true learning about who are will happen time and time again, you will make decisions that have no right answer. The only judgment tool will be the values that you have set or the values that you are going to set.
You never really want to stop working. There will be days where you will be tired, but there will always be so much you want to do to make yourself, your team and your company that much better. That is a never-ending reward.
There is something special about taking on a job that has no defined path: You get to chart the course and make it happen.