The decision to leave the white picket fences of Corporate America and enter the proverbial startup garage is never made on a whim. There are the obvious pros and cons that everyone takes into consideration: lack of structure, creative freedom, more flexibility, and risk. However, simply being aware of the startup world’s reputation hardly prepares someone for life as a tech entrepreneur.
Take my co-founder, for instance: She was extremely goal-oriented and ambitious, which, on the surface, seemed like a recipe for success as a startup founder. However, the culture shock of an unstructured environment with a high degree of uncertainty eventually motivated her to return to Corporate America.
The tech entrepreneurial world is full of risk and constant change. And, as I saw, firsthand,when founding Noomii, those traits can be especially hard to adapt to when you’re fresh out of the 9-to-5 lifestyle. Still, there are a few ways to remedy this sudden shift from structure to chaos. Below are some tips to ease the transition from Corporate America to the tech startup world.
3 Tips for Transitioning to the Startup World
1. Communicate with friends and family. Plan out your expectations for your new venture and communicate those expectations to loved ones. Your family members may have their own expectations or fears during this transition. Trading the guaranteed salary and hours of a 9-to-5 job for the uncertainty of entrepreneurship can be hard on spouses and children.
Remedy their doubt by clearly explaining how long you have to take a swing at it, and tell supporters what you want to achieve during this time — preferably measurable outcomes. As an added bonus to laying out clear expectations, you wind up improving your own personal accountability for the next few months or years.
2. Find a collaborative working environment. Paul Graham, the co-founder of Y Combinator, is a huge fan of tech hubs. And, although you don’t necessarily need to move to Silicon Valley to find this type of environment, it’s important that you find those small (or large) pockets of tech people that every city is bound to have.
Once you find those techies, find a way to work near them, such as in an incubator or co-working space. Working in an atmosphere of tech collaboration and innovation allows you to bounce ideas off other like-minded people and, perhaps most importantly, helps you stay motivated during those inevitable downturns.
3. Get a mentor or coach. Leaving the structure of a corporate job and moving to a place of personal accountability can often be the biggest challenge. However, finding a mentor or business coach can help you get the most out of each day, ensuring you don’t get emotionally overwhelmed by the challenges of running a startup.
Whomever you turn to, make sure it’s someone who has your best interests at heart and can help you plan, track, and optimize your short- and long-term goals. Seeking the counsel of someone who has done it before can help you avoid the pitfalls of first-time entrepreneurs and help you gain perspective when things get rocky.
Call it a culture shock, a tough transition, or simply the trials that come with starting your own business — no matter how great your idea is or how ambitious you are, any tech entrepreneur transitioning from the corporate world is bound to hit a few bumps in the road. But by communicating with your family, finding a collaborative work environment, and seeking help from someone who can advise you, you can focus on growing your business.