The Great Start Up Plan
Everyone dreams of starting their own company. Many many people try and a huge number of them fail pretty badly. Starting one’s own company is no child’s play. It has a ton of risks associated with it and it can be sometimes difficult to rise back up after a failure. So it is best to plan for it instead of just jumping right in. Sure, side businesses are small risks and these experiments can be done anytime, but when you truly want to create your own proper company, I suggest you follow this general plan:
Phase 1: Join a Big Company #
This is important on many levels. Firstly, this is a sort of safety net. An insurance of sorts. Right after graduation, you have a certain boost due to your prestigious University and this lets you relatively easily gain employment at bigger companies. The next time you go job hunting, Your boost will depend on your past employers. Think about it, your next potential employer has two CV’s in front of him. One is coming from a well-respected company, and one is coming from a company no one he knows has ever heard of. Who do you think we would be inclined towards? So to safeguard your CV against future failures, this is a necessary step.
Secondly, when you are part of a big company, you are playing with the Big Boys now. This contributes to your skills and helps you take your abilities to the next level. Unless you actually spend time working alongside people who are much better skilled than you, your self-development will be stinted. So this experience teaches you a lot of things you didn’t know before, like how to write better software, how to manage teams better, how to handle large projects better, etc etc. And you can use all of these things when you choose to Start your own Company. Eyes on the prize, my man.
Lastly, Big companies pay Big and this will help you create a cash reserve for the time when you choose to be the risk-taking Entrepreneur. Trust me, the software business needs cash reserves. Loads of em. So unless you got VC’s lining up to throw money at you, this is a great way to prepare yourself for bootstrapping your own company.
Phase 2: Join a small Company #
Now that you have acquired the necessary engineering skills, time to look at what it’s like to have your own start up. And what better way to see that by being part of a start up? So in this phase you seek out a small company that you like and join them in their adventure.
The major difference you will see here as compared to your previous company is that, in big companies, they have separate people to do different tasks. So everyone is focused on a smaller number of tasks and strives to perfect themselves at it. The down side of this is that you only get to be great at a handful of things, and you never realize what all those other tasks are that are so important to running a company. In small companies, everyone wears multiple hats and so you get a go at a lot of things. So you have a chance to diversify your skill set.
While in Phase 2, it would be best if you try to sink your teeth into as many things as you can. Go help the accounts guy with the expenses and the revenues. Go help the project manager find better ways to keep things running, and meeting deadlines. Go with the marketing/analysis guy to meet the client and learn how to understand requirements. You have a chance to do all these things because chances are, your new company might not have enough personnel to dedicate to all these tasks. And you take advantage of this. And in the words of the great A.Q. Khan:
Take notes of everything you see and do.
(He did that when working at foreign power plants. How else do you think he Built his own Nuclear Start up ??)
Side Quest: #
There may come a time when your boss runs out of ideas for products, or his current ideas might not be working out. This is the perfect time to pitch him that side project you have been working on, or that amazing idea that’s been nagging you at the back of your mind. If you succeed, you’re gonna get your idea built at someone else’s expense (and risk)!! It lets you test out your theory and you get paid to work on your own project (guaranteed payout: Salary!). So in certain sense you’d have your own Startup without actually having to go through the troubles of creating your own Startup! Heck if your boss is a nice guy and acknowledges that it was YOUR idea, he might not only make you the head of it, he might even give you a share in the profits!
Phase 3: Start your own Company #
Armed will all the knowledge and cash reserves from the previous phases, it’s time for the young eagle to spread its wings and take flight!! As for how to actually do that, well there’s a plethora of literature written on it which you can read when you actually get to this point. Good luck! May the force be with you! (PS: if you are Muslim, Force = Allah mian)
Why the long route? #
You might be wondering why take such a long route? Why go through all this trouble and not skip phases? Well a lot of people do that. A lot of people just jump to phase 3. Yes, some of them succeed, but most of them Fail.
Some people skip Phase 1, and join a startup right after graduation. They miss out on the amazing focused learning experience of the Big Company and also the safety net. And later in life, if they desire to join a big company, they face hurdles. Hurdles that do not exist at the time of their graduation. So why create problems for yourself? Why not use this opportunity to learn new things and increase your chances?
Some people skip Phase 2. They then suddenly realize there is so much to running a company than writing code. A LOT of software houses out there face this problem of creating products and then failing to cash in on them. Or having their companies collapse because they didn’t realize what needs to be done to keep it afloat. Yes they learn from their failures but why lose so much in the learning process when you can get paid to learn?
So I hope this was of help to you, and I look forward to seeing you do amazing things in the future!