I think everyone in life has faced the decision about what to do after your studies are over. Of course the first thing that we do is to look at our friends. Where are they going? What do they plan? What kind of money are they going to earn?
Of course we look at possible jobs from a financial standpoint. I mean that’s why job fields such as investment banking, private equity and venture capital are so popular amongst good graduates.
If such a job does not work out, we often settle for one of the DAX or Fortune 500 companies. We seek out to become corporate employees. I mean don’t get me wrong, I think those companies have great programs, furthermore, your parents are going to be happy with your position. You have got a “safe” job, you will earn a fair amount of money and in about 10 years, if you deliver good work, say please and thank you and moreover develop a good relationship with your boss, you are going to be in an executive position. To my mind this sounds good. However, this post addresses the topic of entrepreneurship and shows you, why it might be an interesting alternative.
Of course entrepreneurship isn’t something for everyone. Many graduates think that in order to become a successful entrepreneur, you need to have one great idea that revolutionizes everything. This illusion often prevents them from following their dream of becoming self-employed.
If you follow blogs of successful entrepreneurs such as Mark Cuban, Brad Feld or books from Donald Trump, you realize that theses million or billion dollar ideas are often the cause of really hard work.
“The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
In May I have had the chance to meet one of the coolest authors and angel investors from the valley, Timothy Ferriss, author of the 4 Hour Work Week and the 4 Hour Body, both New York Times #1 bestsellers. I enjoyed a great talk with him regarding the topic of the first job choice. After my studies I developed a big interest in private equity and venture capital, however he, an experienced entrepreneur, advisor and of course multi-millionaire recommended that I should start working at a startup. He specifically recommended to work for/ with the VP of Marketing, the VP of Sales or the VP of Business Development.
Now six months later , I can say, it was the best career move to join a startup and avoid going to one of the investment banks, consulting firms or one of the big companies. Currently, I am in the role of the business development manager and enjoying lots of responsibility.
As a result, the learning curve has been extremely steep, plus everything is changing constantly, no structures exist, you develop your own structures. You need to be pro-active yourself. Furthermore, your suggestions for business improvement are heard and implemented, thus the reach and impact of your actions can be considered as significantly higher than in the company sectors named above.
Nevertheless, going into consulting or investment banking is still a very good choice with regard to the learning curve. You get assigned projects and are able to have an inside view into several industries. However, well-known venture capitalists such as Brad Feld or Fred Wilson argue that if you truly desire to be an entrepreneur, going into investment banking or consulting directly “after your studies, is useless”. Instead, successful entrepreneurs such as Kevin Rose, Tim Ferriss and Mark Cuban suggest you should get some hands-on experience and just try to learn everything that is possible to learn in your job segment.
“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”
Thus, as a conclusion, if you desire to become an entrepreneur and run your own company, you should decide to work for a successful startup and learn everything that is possible to learn about the business (operations, marketing, sales, brand management, accounting, hiring the right people). However, if you want to work in a leading management position in a later stage startup; an investment banking or top management consulting background might come in handy.
Hope this helps in case you have to make any decisions.
Till next time!