I have to approach this like a CEO. Do you stop making Product A because you are getting ready to launch an improved Product B? No. You ensure that Product B is going into the right market and has gained traction before pulling the rugs from underneath Product A.
By Blessing Oyeleye (blogger, Think Feminist)
Ever since I caught the entrepreneurial bug, I have being obsessed with everything start-up. I read everything I can lay my hands on – from the Lean Start-Up machine to stalking Gotham Gal, AVCs blog, Paul Graham essays and of course my beloved Women2.0. I also end up speaking to tons of web designers, developers and potential advisors and mentors for my start-up. These coupled with a full-time job, training and running half-marathons, raising a 4 year-old and living a healthy lifestyle (everyone knows it’s a lot of hard work to green juice, cook your own food every single day, no?). I digress, although I have to say that staying in top shape and living intentionally benefits your start-up in every way. You tend to have better mental clarity, rigor and ability to focus on difficult tasks.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it truly means to be an employee and at the same time a potential CEO/Co-Founder. This big leap is not for the faint at heart and I recognize that. Not to toot my own horn, but I am very comfortable with stress and I thrive on working under pressure. It’s the only way I can get anything done 110% but there is a part of me that wonders what life is like to just focus on my start-up without the 50+ hours full-time job. I know what many of you are thinking – why not quit your job and focus on it? Well, the short story is that I can’t. I need the money, and until I get around to seeking funding, I plan on keeping my job.
There are so many companies that have started as a side project and became real companies eventually. Craigslist was Craig Newmark’s side project started in 1995 and only turned into a real company in 1999. So many people think they cannot start working on a start-up unless they are out of a job. By focusing 100% on a startup, you most likely get things going faster, and you hustle like crazy, I get it. However, one of the advantages of working on my startup on the side is that it gives me the luxury to test my hypotheses even more so with co-workers, friends, and families. I also have the money to travel to conferences and events without worrying about diminishing funds. These small but crucial activities, add value in a way that going full throttle, burning through cash and possibly crashing afterwards does not. The reality is that 9 out of 10 startups fail. And as an engineer, I thrive on data. I believe so much in doing my homework, hearing from customers, acquiring customers, and launching a minimum viable product before going exiting corporate life.
This said, my entire basis for doing this is around financial security. Trust me, I have thought about quitting my job, moving myself and my 4 year-old to New York (luckily, my Mom is coming to stay with me full-time to help out), however, I know that I have to be sensible. I have to approach this like a CEO. Do you stop making Product A because you are getting ready to launch an improved Product B? No. You ensure that Product B is going into the right market and has gained traction before pulling the rugs from underneath Product A. And I know that there are recent college graduates my age who are leaving it all behind and following their dreams.
At the young age of 26, I have learned very quickly that you can only go as far as your bank account and networks will get you, and what I want to focus on while working my full-time job is to grow my network, launch my MVP and watch the gods of startups unfold naturally.
Women 2.0 readers: Are you working full-time and on a side project to launch a startup? We would love to hear from you!
This post was originally posted at Think Feminist.
About the guest blogger: Blessing Oyeleye is a chemical engineer and project manager for a Fortune 100 Company. She is working on a fashion-tech/social-good startup that brings collections of underserved women in developing and emerging economies to a global marketplace. By harnessing the power of the market and technology, she aims to partner with and empower women creators. She is graduate of the University of Florida and pursuing a Masters at NYIT. She blogs at ThinkFeminist. Follow her on Twitter at @ThinkFeminist.