Why someone decides to quit his/her job to start his/her own company?
Let’s try to get over the classic clichés and listen to real life experiences, not filtered by the coolness and the hype surrounding the fact of being a tech entrepreneur. Few days ago I had the chance to listen 3 guys who did the jump: they quit their job and started their own company. 3 different typologies of entrepreneur, 3 different stages of entrepreneurship (names are fictional).
- Mark is in his 40s: he started his company 10 years ago, a really innovative product but facing big competition from US. Ups and down, now his “baby” reached medium size and it’s profitable. He’s running the same company he started over 10 years ago.
- “Entrepreneurship is a sentence of failures punctuated by brief success.” (J. Altucher) could be the right quote to introduce Bill: in his early 30′s, so far he started up 4 companies, the first 3 didn’t see an happy ending: not committed co-founder, wrong team, not finding investors. Now he started a 4th one, quite promising. Maybe he didn’t believe enough in the first 3 companies he founded.
- John, formerly a phd researcher and university teacher. Be a researcher was extremely different from his dream job: he didn’t had the freedom he wanted, he was becoming super expert in a narrow field and on top he lost the pleasure of sharing his knowledge and learning from others. He felt he was not creating value. And he started his own company. After 1 year of hard work the product was out. He was able to attract customers. Big companies, big money. But his product would had been used not for the reason why he created it. It would had been used for controlling, checking, in worst case scenario even firing developers reported doing too many mistakes. No, not the reason why he decided to quit his researcher job and to start his own company. He made a really bold decision: he denied to sell his product to the big companies big money. He started back working on the product, finding and fixing the root causes why he didn’t reach the customers he wanted to reach. And succeeded.
Different background, different experiences, different approaches to life…all of them have one thing in common: they decided to become entrepreneurs because they had strong internal reasons. No, the reason was not becoming outrageous rich like Scrooge McDuck. They wanted to create value. Something meaningful for them and for the others.
They all felt unsatisfied by their job. They were looking for the gratification of creating useful products and services. They were looking for a reason to wake up in the morning. An inside reason, not something coming from external pressure or society or someone else’s thinking. Inside out, not outside in.
Simon Sinek found a pattern common to several innovators, from Steve Jobs to Martin Luther King. He codified the way innovators think, act and communicate in what he called “ the Golden Circle”. Why, How, What. All organizations know what they do. Few organizations know why they do what they do. Would you buy a PC promoted like “ We make great computers, beautifully designed, simply to use and user friendly, would you buy one? “ or a computer marketed like this: ” Everything we do we believe in changing the status quo, we believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simply to use and user friendly which happen to make great computers. Would you buy one?”. The first example would be a company trying to sell you a product explaining what they do.They will list you the features, the technical facts, the rational reasons. Buy us, we are the best. Quite uninspiring. The second company, an Apple-like will start from the purpose, the cause, the beliefs. They will explain you why they do what they do and how it is mirrored in their products.( by the way a company who got it right is MiiR, check it out).
Entrepreneurs who found their Why are the ones who can really innovate. And change the world we live in. They have strong beliefs and emotional link to what they do. The Why – my ancient greek philosophy background reminds me what Socrates would had called daimon- will donate them the perseverance to go ahead, to beat obstacles and persuade as well others to believe in what they believe. They got the Golden Circle right. Inspiring leaders and organizations think, act and communicate from inside out, not from outside in.
” Did you regret quitting your job for entrepreneurship? “ all of them replied firmly No. I will do and redo everything again and again.
You can watch Simon Sinek Ted’s talk clicking here.