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An update on my start up journey

I indicated recently that I was contemplating a career shift and moving into a start up. I’m going to provide an update around how things are going.

Earlier this year I decided to make a move from a career standpoint. I left my long-standing employer of almost 8 years to take a punt on a start up opportunity within an established business. I’m pleased to say that a couple of months in I feel strongly that the decision that I made to make the switch appears to be the right opportunity.

My current role involves more operational responsibilities than I’ve previously had. I’m charged with executing on a new business opportunity within this new organization that I’ve joined. It’s essentially a start up opportunity within a large business so I have the luxury and the freedom of a startup employee with the security and backing that comes with being an employee of a large established business.

That in my view provides the best of both worlds. The challenge is an interesting one because growing a business is not a career challenge that I’ve had to undertake at this point in time in my career.

A lot of what I’m doing is defining market strategy, laying out plans to tackle and selling to different industries identify account management strategies to grow from a proof of concept into a market trial and into sales revenue while maintaining a disciplined view with respect to competitor actions in this emerging market.

Unlike traditional start up roles I’m able to do all of this with the understanding that I have a secure and robust financial package yet with the giving potential upside if we are able to outperform in this venture. In the worst case if the venture doesn’t succeed I would simply be redeployed into another part of the organization. In this particular venture we have roughly 3 years to make this successful, however a significant amount of the attraction to me with this opportunity was that I will get to spend an extended period of time in a growth market in the tech sector which likely will keep rolling on for the next 10 to 15 years.

I view this as a long-term career move to establish myself in what I would realistically expect is the last portion of my career journey likely for the next 10 years or so at which point I intend to steadily face myself out a formal employment.

What’s been the most interesting aspect of this switch for me is that I find that I’m less preoccupied with the ongoing politics within the larger organization given that I’m so busy thinking about how to make this start up endeavor successful. That’s left limited time to think and ponder the broader political environment within the company. That frankly to me is a good thing because it means that my efforts and energies are more productively focused on the end endeavor and less so on the annoying distractions of corporate life.

I’m also really enjoyed the opportunity to dip my hands into several different pies at once. For anyone that’s working in a start up you’ll probably know that this is par for the course as far as the expectations of being an early employee in an emerging organization role definition typically means little.

In my case what I was brought on primarily for strategic endeavors. I am simultaneously looking at defining strategy, defining pricing, working on sales and account management as well as investments and managing potential acquisitions.

I’m effectively wearing 6 to 7 different hats within the startup endeavor that I’m pursuing. Not only does that make for a very enriching day-to-day experience but I can see how longer term or even medium time that will help position me really well for any subsequent transition that I may make to any other role or even any moves externally.

I can’t really think of any material downsides at this stage if I were pressed to think of one. The explicit accountability for results is something that I’ve been able to duck and dodge for an extended period of time with my old employer. To be explicitly responsible and accountable for the delivery of certain results is a new experience and a new challenge but frankly one that I’m looking forward to seeing how I do.

The other typical downside with most ups which is the long hours is not something that I am experiencing in my current role. Fortunately the overall culture of the larger corporate organization is still alive and well within the start up venture albeit that we work at a much faster accelerated pace but it is not the expectation to burn unreasonable hours for the sake of making progress. What I’ve observed is that we all collectively tend to work faster and more diligently to accomplish the things that need getting done.

If I was to identify any other specific downside it would probably be that my blogging efforts have suffered a little over these last two months. That’s not for a lack of time to be able to blog but what I have observed is that my free time tends to get invested into thinking of new ideas and opportunities to execute at my start up role which arguably is a good thing because it means that I’m really getting into the role and the opportunities that it’s bringing. I expect so that over time as I transition to more of a business as usual mode that will leave more time to share my thoughts and ideas on investments with you.

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