Updated: May 17, 2019
I read this article today about Amazon offering employees to take $10,000, quit their job and start a business.
Let's imagine this offer was available to everyone, would you take the opportunity?
I suspect for the lure of $10,000 and a guaranteed bigshot customer like Amazon, a few would bite the bullet. Some will give it serious thought. However for many of you, quitting a job to start a business on your own is scary. It's like being launched into outer space in a brand new jet pack with nothing else except a quick-start pamplet and a note that says "have a great journey".
I fully understand why you would rather job-hop tirelessly to find the perfect pasture than entertain the idea of being on your own. The fear of the unknown is normal. $10,000 is actually not much to start a business. It's enough...if you know exactly what you're doing. That is perhaps the reason why Amazon is offering it only to their employees - these people, who have worked for years in Amazon distribution lines, already have domain expertise.
Some of you possess a rare kind of clarity. That is, you are absolutely sure you're not cut out for business. You'd rather serve a purpose and make the world a better place. Afterall, someone has to save the whales or lobby for equal opportunity. If you are this type of person, value that clarity and stay the course. There's absolutely nothing wrong with you if you follow your heart..
However, for a handful of you who are hating your guts because you genuinely want to try but the fear of putting your family commitments at risk is too overwhelming, you can't take the plunge - I offer you this to reflect on.
I noticed that there are a lot of professionals who become openly curious about entreprenuership as they grow older. That is because fear will usually wane as you ground yourself financially. If you're standing on the ground of experience, your feet are firm and it's much easier to wield a double-edged sword.
The desire to reach our full potential is in all of us. No one wants to grow old asking the question "what if". But the chasm between employment and a business on your own is too wide, it's natural to be afraid to take the leap. So instead of starting your own business, I offer an elegant alternative which I would've taken myself if I knew any better when I was young. If I could give my younger self only one advise, it would be this:
"Be a wingman first. A Wozniak to a would-be Jobs."
If you're savvy enough, there's actually a sweet spot. A compromise, if you may, between employment and being on your own. It's what I call hitching on a star. The concept is simple - be invaluable to someone who has the potential to do great in what you're passionate about.
Yes, you're still taking some risks but at least you're not fully exposed. You will not be the one operating the jet pack in outer space. You will be sitting safely in mission control guiding flight.
Don't get me wrong. It's not a walk in the park. You will have to invest your best into the mission. At a vantage point or up close, you will probably see things fail. At least you will not have to be the one to pull the chords that deploy the chutes in an emergency. Somebody else will.
You're only challenge is how to find yourself a star of a person to hitch your dreams upon. Put your talent behind that person and agree on some form of equity split or meaningful compensation. Once you have that in order, you're ready to launch. Remember, you have to be the go-to person. The enabler of sorts for the cowboy astronauts thrusting themselves in the black and cold expanse of space called business.
One such person, is Gwynne Shotwell, the president of SpaceX. She has the coolest job in the world launching big Falcon rockets to space in behalf of Elon Musk - the ever controversial visionary. We might someday see a colony in Mars partly because of Elon. But I can imagine, it will be largely because of Gwynne.
As a CEO of a small startup, I know I can't do it all. I surround myself daily with people I trust. I'm blessed to be with very talented and dedicated people. I hope someday to find my Gwynne Shotwell in one of them. If not I look to the stars, because the leash has two loops, one at each end. In my observation of successful businesses, it actually takes at least two stars to hitch a dream.
Check out the link: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/13/business/amazon-delivery-business.html