Why I Quit My Graduate Job and Started Up

Orginally published 6th August 2013 by Startacus

As if by accident, I’ve started a business.

I never thought I would be going down this route — to be honest, until about a year ago I didn’t even know what a startup was. I graduated from uni this time last year and traditional careers advice never seems to include “why don’t you think about starting a business?” Instead, graduates like me are washed down the funnel into the usual graduate employment without really being told about any other options (which, incidentally, is what I’m trying to change with my new business).

So when I heard about startups and this new Silicon Roundabout place I was intrigued, and it turned out that this could be what I’ve been searching for as a career. I liked the idea of putting my hard work in for my own thing and doing something I actually care about, rather than just going to work because I have to. We spend the majority of our time at work so why not make it doing something you really love.

There are a couple of quotes floating around at the moment that go something like this “If you don’t build your own dreams, someone else will hire you to build their’s” (I think this one is attributed to Tony Gaskin), and that rings true. I wasn’t all that comfortable with the notion of working long hours to further my career doing something that doesn’t really matter to me, a job where I can’t directly see progress or any changes brought about by what I was doing. I feel like starting up puts you firmly in charge of your own career and allows you to see everything along the way, the ups and the downs — all of which are a product of your own work.

The thing that really pushed me to make the decision was something I read from Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, in a magazine. She said something along the lines of “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” and I found that really interesting. Fear is natural and is definitely necessary sometimes, but in some cases it can just hold you back when you should be taking a leap of faith.

With this mantra in mind, I quit the job that wasn’t really living up to my expectations to focus on starting up. This was probably quite a risky decision as the sensible thing to do would be start the business alongside my job, but circumstances allowed me a bit of a grace period over the summer to see if I could get something off the ground. And I’m pleased to be able to dedicate my full attention to something. I remember spending time at work thinking “I wonder what it would be like to spend my day doing something I enjoy as my job”. Of course right now I don’t know if I’m going to succeed or not, but what matters is that I made the leap and am working as hard as I can to try and make it work.

Starting a business isn’t for everyone but I honestly think that anyone who is “umm”ing and “ahhh”ing about starting up should just go for it. If you don’t, you’ll regret it later thinking “I wonder what would have happened if I’d started my own business.” Whether you’re a graduate or someone who is in the corporate bubble, escape is possible!

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