8 months ago I quit my safe corporate job to start Sirkil - our humble start up.. We all know how hard that decision is to make; to let go of that safety net and 100% commit to merely an idea you have. And when I say 100%, I mean it's a 24/7 job characterized with extreme uncertainty, high risk and no guaranteed returns.
For you to get a better picture, I will give you an example of something we can all (sadly) relate to. Starting a business is like marriage, not only do you have to prepare for your start-up emotionally, mentally and financially, but you should also start it with an intention to commit for a lifetime. So a decision like this is as hard as getting to choose a life partner!
The decision making process I went through lasted for over a month. A month of inner debates, self-doubt and I ended up with the analysis paralysis syndrome just before I made my mind. So, here’s how I made it and I hope I can help you:
I weighed the pros and cons of each path, and the list wasn't short!
The risks varied from financial, social and societal. Am I passionate about Sirkil to an extent that I will risk my brother’s savings (who invested doubtlessly in my startup)?
- The answer was yes, I do have the persistence to double his investments.
Am I willing at the age of 25 to spend less time with my loved ones, lose touch with some friends, and abandon some hobbies and interests? And coming from a typical Egyptian family, owning your own business or being independently successful for that matter knocks off a list of insecure men as eligible future partners..
- I believed enough in my team and our chemistry that I willingly perceived them as my other half for the time being.
So if you can draw a conclusion from the above, it would be that it's unwise to start down the path of entrepreneurship unless you've got a zeal that will get you through rough patches and keep you interested long after the initial enthusiasm has faded.
Have I got what it takes? And what actually does it take to make it?
The following are a few common characteristics that any aspiring start-up owner should hope to possess and acquire. Am I not risk averse? Am I willing to juggle many roles and willing to learn? And when things got complicated was I self-motivated and passion-driven enough to not give up or get too stressed?
When it comes to entrepreneurship you should be fully aware that it’s not all glitz and glamour. You will have to wash your own dishes, clean your own space, get paid WAY below any industry average you have ever heard of and still be the CEO.. You should be that kind of person who dreams at day and hardly sleeps at night cause you are busy thinking of tomorrow's TO-DOs.
Did you calculate your risk? That's how I tried to calculate mine.
Ok, the idea behind your business is not enough and will never be. Chances are, if you’ve got an idea for a start-up, someone else has already thought of it, too. What makes a successful venture is the team behind the idea, a team resilient enough to make it work and if it didn’t they will come up with something else. YES, some OTHER idea. We are a competent team with different yet complementary skills coming from different backgrounds and having different mindsets. This team was the only risk I was able to calculate and be positive about. In the end, ideas never wear out, people do. So make sure you have the right team working on the right idea.
Can you take this oath?
I took an oath that this venture would be a journey to learn, to discover, to challenge myself in ways I never thought existed. That it’s my chance for self-actualization and realizing my limitations. And that I should truly understand that entrepreneurship is about the journey, not the destination.
Is the decision getting easier? No? Didn't think so.
Have you made lists? Asked around? Still sick and tired of thinking about if it's the right time to do it?
No matter how big your dreams and aspirations are, if the doing doesn’t start happening you ain’t gonna materialize them. BUT, don’t do that unless you reach the point where your fear of not trying overcomes your fear of failure; at that point pull the trigger!
And remember, magic happens nowhere close to your comfort zone.
Written by: Basma Al Banna - Co-CEO & Co-founder.