“Startup-of-One” - starting all over at 45
The “system” I was born into implied a simple formula: get the best degree you can, look for a job, scale-up your curriculum, build a career — in other words: become entrepreneur for someone else for the rest of your life!
This formula was the right recipe for my almost 20-years career during which I have specialized in business development, sales and account management, mostly in the high-tech industry. I have built a global experience strong with travel to many territories such as Africa, the Middle East, Europe, the Arab/Muslim world, Asia, Oceania, North & South America. I came across and learned to adapt to multiple & unique business cultures and, it goes without saying, enjoyed and suffered endless hours of airplane!
This experience is what defines who I am today. It was and still is highly valuable, it made me a “citizen of the world” — I had become “global” just before the new digital revolution was going to transform each and everyone of us into a global player de-facto.
Almost 3 years ago, after working for the last 9 years within Latin America, I had reached both an age (the Forty-years-crisis?) and mental crossroad. I have been maturing the idea of making a change, one that would be aligned with the shift in paradigm of the digital transformation. There were two conflicting voices inside me, on the one hand:
The voice of fear — indeed, married with three kids means responsibility, it requires economic stability; it would mean leaving the comfort zone and implied putting at risk my savings for moving from steady income to nothing, from a well known routine to complete uncertainty.
Opportunity, on the other hand, was the other voice calling me for change, inviting me to face new challenges, to take risks, to become my own boss…This process lasted about three to four years until I decided I was ready to jump into the pool…(by the way, “readiness” is completely subjective and personal).
At the age of 45 I eventually founded my own startup, a “Startup of One”. My initiative was based on the assumption that I could “package” those attributes that make me unique and transform them into my value proposition directed to bring commercial and globalization value to other startups. This ‘toolbox of talents’ can be the formula for anyone who wishes to become his own startup.
It wasn’t easy! In fact, quite the opposite!! The first year was tough, it’s the learning curve period that will set the ground for changing or fine-tuning your model. The second year is when you start understanding the potential and experience gradual though modest growth; it is also when people get to know you in the ecosystem in the process of building your place and reputation. The third year — now reaching age 48, ends up with an established and sound business, regular income and a model set for continuous growth. The main ingredients required: self-confidence, believing in your mission and persistence.
We live in a new world of gigantic transformation powered by a digital progress never seen before. Many jobs will disappear, others will mutate. If you find yourself in a situation similar to mine a few years back, my recommendation is you take control of your professional destiny, become protagonist of your career by embracing change while building your own ‘talent toolkit’.
Despite many threats, opportunities out there are much greater through the birth of the collaboration economy — one needs to find the courage, design a realistic plan and choose the correct (personal) timing. In today’s world, everyone can become a “Startup of One” (or more), it’s easier for the new generations but definitely feasible for older generations as well ! Go for it!
About the author: Roni Grosfeld is Founder & CEO of inlat — startups go global! a Commercial Accelerator Boutique for early stage potentially high-impact startups that offer a service or a product for the enterprise segment (B2B and/or B2B2C).