Afraid of Quitting Your Job... to Start Up?

Nandini Hirianniah

Startups have become quite fashionable off late. I've met many people who have the 'grand idea' of starting a venture. They are excited about the funding opportunities that are available these days. Some of them even have elaborate business plans, go-to-market strategies, and even exit plans thought through. But, something stops them from doing it fulltime or working on building their product. When I encounter such instances, I say to myself – "Good exercise to humour oneself in spare time!" 

Conviction in oneself is what stops them from taking the plunge:

If you are completely convinced, you can just make up your mind and get started the next day. Try and you'll know!

This may sound easy, but ironically the most important and difficult task in the process of turning entrepreneur is convincing oneself completely to take the plunge and get started against all odds.

Many-a-times, we do not want to address the real issue that is stopping us. We fool ourselves by addressing things that are not-so-important. The result, a loop of excuses that we hide behind!

Some common excuses I have come across:

1.      I'll get started when I have enough money to sustain my venture & me. I want money to last until I turn profitable.

2.      I have liabilities - home loan, car loan and a lifestyle I am used to. I do not want these to suffer when I turn entrepreneur. I'll get started when I have these covered.

My Take: People over-estimate the amount of money they need by a big margin.

My approach would be to take stock of the money I have right now and get started! I'd think of how best i'll use that money and how long i'll make it last? I know of teams that have built amazing version 1 of their product with just 1 Lakh Rupees that's lasted them a year in bootstrap mode.

 Similarly, there is no explanation to idealistic thoughts of covering all liabilities, etc. You never know how much is required or how much money is good enough!

 3.      I am doing market research to validate my idea before I get started.

My Take: Stop arm chair speculation. Users who use your product or service are the best to give you real feedback. Market Research will give you an indication, if at all. Not the decision.

4.       I will get started when I raise Institutional money (get funding).

My Take: Why will someone risk their money on you, if they see that you've not taken the risk of starting out yourself?

5.      I am looking for a founding team before I can get started!

My Take: How can you convince someone else to join you if you're not completely convinced? Jump in, execute and the team will fall in place.

6.      I get a lot of free time in my job. I am building the product at nights & weekends. Once it is ready I will quit.

My Take: Do not underestimate the value you can create by working on your venture fulltime. Your job will demand your priority. Doing your venture fulltime will make you more productive and you can achieve a lot more in a short time.

There is a fair chance you are not designed to be an entrepreneur, this you will not know till you try. Do not to complicate the situation; tackle the fears within first. Figure out how you can solve the problems that your fears pose and you'll realize they were never problems in the first place. In this process, if you figure out you are not made for it then, good we found out. 

But chances are once you free your mind, you'll realize your own potential and get to solving a problem you are passionate about.

Profile of the Author: Nandini Hirianniah is the co-founder of The Morpheus, India's premier startup accelerator and micro fund. She works closely with startup teams ranging from an idea to 2 years helping them bootstrap & build useful products.