After sharing in a passing that I had once written a business plan, I was recently asked to write a post convincing other women to join an entrepreneurship program.
My first reaction was “WAT”. I utterly failed at becoming an entrepreneur, I don’t know if my story is the best to share as a motivational story. But when thinking about it a bit more, I decided there’s nothing to hide. Being an entrepreneur is hard, and exciting, and utterly failing is part of the story. Failing is no reason not to try.
First stop: MBA. But not how you think.
My story begins in the most uninspiring way: I was the most risk-averse person in the world. I NEVER thought I would like to start a business, let alone any type of startup. I actually got my MBA thinking it would be fun and chose what I thought were rather easy majors which would fit in nicely with my CS training — Organizational Behavior (loved it!) and Information Systems.
Some of my friends took more business-oriented paths and now wear buttoned down shirts and dress pants and work in VCs (just pointing out the tradeoff). But I was very happy with my MBA. I got to read lots of interesting articles from HBR and a nice overview of the business world which enriched me as a programmer. Still, in general, I just wanted to work somewhere interesting and have a salary at the end of the month.
Second stop: Kids.
After my second child was born, I felt I wanted a change. Work from home, have more time and flexibility to be with my kids, and in general — a better ability to control my schedule. I had an idea for a rather traditional type of business and took an entrepreneurship course to figure out how to go about building and making money out of it. I started working on a plan to slowly phase out of being an employee and ramp up my business, enabling me to leave the hi-tech world and achieve my goals.
What an idiotic idea. What was I thinking?! Here I had these hard-earned, high paying skills, and I was about to leave all that behind for something anyone could do?!
Third stop: It’s a startup! Sort of.
At this point, I realized my business could not be a physical product. That would be a ridiculous waste of my relative advantages. I needed to develop an app or a site. Or a combination of both. So I pivoted my idea into the virtual realm.
But first, I had another kid.
While on maternity leave I started working on a business plan. It was lean, it was smart, it was a damn good idea. The only problem was when I crunched the numbers and I realized any decent paying tech job would pay me almost as much as I could make through my idea, just with a lot less effort and insecurity.
I also had 3 kids, which turned out not to be the very best environment for me to immerse myself in developing a startup.
At this point, the person who asked me to write this post is like WAT. But I wanted you to encourage women to get into entrepreneurship. Not run away from it!
Before I continue I want to be really clear about this: Just because I couldn’t pull it off does not mean that you can’t create an amazing startup with 3 kids. Or 1. Or 5. Or none.
What I really wanted to share is how I was feeling while working on my idea. I felt amazing. The most badass person in the world, about to stun everyone with my brilliant product! Just because I faced the facts on this particular idea, doesn’t mean that I’ve given up entirely on ever being wonder-woman. It was the wrong product and the wrong time for me personally, not the end of the world.
I have a dream
I know that there will be another idea, another time and place, and I’ll feel that fire again and go through with it. And when that day comes, it won’t be just for the money (not that there’s anything wrong with that), it will also be to make my mark in the world, and yes — perhaps, be a role model for other women (and men, you’re allowed too).
Get out there. Be the change you want to see in the world. I’m right behind you.