I get a lot of people asking me why I left the corporate world to become an entrepreneur. Especially since I had a cushy corporate job.
The answer is almost always time. Even when I was working in corporate, I’d spend the mornings reading the Financial Times and the WSJ before doing my actual job during work hours. The nice thing was that I did have enough autonomy to do that so long as some work got done and the pay was good (salaries in the corporate world in Sydney is generally pretty good).
But the problem was that I still had to do stuff that I didn’t feel like doing. I wanted more time to pursue my own interests which sometimes had absolutely nothing to do with what was going on at work.
So I decided to strike out on my own. The initial period is quite difficult. When you do something like this for the first time, you just don’t know if it’s going to work out and maybe you’re just wasting your time and money. Additionally there’s a loss of prestige and identity. Not many people in Sydney were quitting corporate jobs back then to sell shit on the internet and responding to the question “What do you do for a living?” was at times awkward. So the identity stuff plus the uncertainty hanging in the back of your mind can be stressful. I usually tell people now if they are considering something similar to go out and find someone they can partner up with since going it alone can be quite difficult and reduces your chances of making it work.
For me, that I get to control my time is far more important than any of the perks or stability I got from corporate life. Getting to read, learn and think about stuff is far more valuable to me than most activities. This probably seems quite unusual. However, the running around to different meetings and having all of the demands and stresses being placed upon me just wasn’t that appealing. And unless Alphabet or Peter Thiel figures out how to extend human life, then our time on our is very short.
Being an entrepreneur of course doesn’t mean any of these things automatically. In fact, it typically leads to the exact opposite which is less control over your time in that you’ll be working a lot more, sleeping less, more stress, and certainly not much time for sitting and thinking. However, building a real business that works means that ultimately you should be able to dictate your role in the company as well as the depth of involvement.
There are other reasons too that I prefer running your own operation which is that it’s a lot more fun, the challenges that come with it, the money, getting to build the team that you want and deciding who you want to work with.