When to Quit Your Job
‘Don’t quit your day job,’ is a common saying. It warns people not to pursue an endeavor in which they are unlikely to be successful.
But this logic seems counterintuitive. The truth is, if you want to be successful in your pursuits you’ll have to go all-in at some point. This is true of aspiring founders, athletes, musician, or artists. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you should abandon caution to the wind. Making rational decisions are also key factors to your success and wellbeing. Knowing when to make the jump is vital.
I see it on LinkedIn and tech/business Twitter all the time; sensational and motivational spiels yelling at people to ‘quit slaving away’ and embrace the true grit and hustle of being an entrepreneur immediately. While it makes for entertaining short clips on social media, it can be harmful advice.
Don’t let glory titles like ‘founder’ or ‘CEO’ lure you into taking big, impulsive leaps before the fundamentals are in place. Don’t be impatient and figure out the foundations first.
The ugly truth is that founders seldom find success, especially in their first ventures. Sure, there are some lucky breakouts. While it can be rewarding, it is not as glamorous a life as it is often portrayed, so be prepared.
So if you’re on that startup grind, here are 4 things to do before quitting your job to go all-in.
While these steps can not guarantee success, not hitting them at all almost certainly results in failure.
1. Find a co-founder
You can’t always do it alone. Building a company with one or more co-founders will make things much, much easier. But don’t be fooled, the process of finding a compatible and good co-founder will probably be the most arduous, but vital steps in your startup journey.
Ideally, you want to find people who have complimentary skills to you. This doesn’t mean that you should find someone who can do similar things to you. It means that you should each be able to fill gaps with your respective skills. If you want to build an app, but don’t know how to code or program, you’ll need to look for a technical co-founder for example.
Beyond just skills, you and your co-founders need to be aligned on values, the mission of the company, and commitment. Do NOT take this step lightly - almost all startup failures come from co-founder issues. Take the time to find the right people, and don’t rush.
2. Build a prototype
Build the simplest version of your product. If you don’t have the ability to do this, then you definitely should not be quitting your job quite just yet. Jump back to step one and find yourself a technical co-founder that can help you do this. Build the most basic, functioning features for early customers. Don’t worry about all the bells and whistles, or making it perfect. Expect bugs, crashes, and issues; that’s a given. Just make sure you have the bare bones concept to build off of and initiate step 3.
3. Validate your idea with customers
You don’t need a full-fledged product for this to work, you just need your prototype to gauge user-response. Talk to your customers, and figure out what their pain points are; what’s the real problem and how can you solve it? It is frustrating to see so many founders obsessed with building for themselves, and not paying enough attention to communicating with people who are actually buying their product. Try to get feedback in whatever way you can, and relentlessly iterate.
4. Get some presales
If people want your product badly enough, they’ll buy it - simple as that. Platforms like Kickstarter, along with LOI’s (Letter of Intent) with potential enterprise customers can help with this process. The presale process is just as important as sales!