Be Entrepreneurial Over Being a Founder
I get emails asking for support or advice fairly often and I like to multiply the outcome by posting. Enjoy!
I met this person at a Tomodachi event over the summer:
I have a question I was hoping you could offer some advice on. My business partner and I decided that we were going too fast too early on our startup, and to try again when we’re both more secure, wiser, and better connected.
The thing is though, I very much, almost obsessively so, want to stay on the entrepreneurial path. Its capacity for change, creation, and meaning is something I can’t see myself finding elsewhere. While I’m currently seeking Product Manager roles to bridge the gap, I lack the technical skills most companies look for (though I’m self-learning code right now to change that!).
My question is: Do you know of any opportunities that would allow me as a graduated student to continue to be involved with entrepreneurship?
I guess my question is almost like when one of the students asked whether or not entrepreneurship disrespected his parents. My parents trusted in me and my startup through my senior year and summer, even letting me skip job recruiting. As their child, I feel a responsibility to find something that is at least financially positive and professionally stable so that they can rest easy.
I think it’s great that you are asking yourself these questions. I think one of the best ways that you can stay plugged in is by working at a startup you admire. Some of the most primed people, and younger founders I’ve met, for entrepreneurship are those who worked with others as an intern or hire. So I’d keep learning the skills you’ll need to get hired by a startup.
Additionally, keep up with the community, go to events, hackathons, etc. I think a lot of people in the entrepreneurial community know it’s about the longer haul and self growth is a HUGE part of that. Also, don’t get caught in the trap of having to be a founder. You can work with a great startup and be part of a founding team or early stage enough to have the direction that you want while working on something great. Too often I see people wanting the prestige (and perceived lifestyle and potential compensation in the long run) of being a founder more than committing to doing what is truly important.
If you’re looking for something that has more stability (that said, not much is stable in this world anymore with people changing jobs fairly frequently) you might try working with a more established startup. That said, if you do that, find mentors — someone in the company who can take you under their wing and spend some real time with you discussing startups and ideas, someone who is invested in you personally — it could be your manager or someone else, but don’t go into a company and be lax about developing mentorship level relationships (it doesn’t have to be formal either, just, “hey, can we grab lunch?”) — it takes some proactivity and it’s well worth it.
Hope this helps!