What are the steps to quit your job and start a company? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
What are the steps to quit your job and start a company?
I'd recommend starting the business before you actually quit. A great example is the story of the massive online glasses retailer whose founders were all in school or working and decided to build up the business in parallel, eventually going at it full time.
It's good risk management and provides an opportunity to validate your idea, but perhaps more importantly it allows you to build momentum (and confidence).
Psychological momentum is a that we've all experienced at some point in our lives. When we perform well, it gives us confidence that we can continue to succeed, which often pushes us even further in a positive direction.
When Evgeni Plushenko nailed the triple axel and got his first Olympic gold medal, we can sure bet that he was confident on getting another one (and he ended up receiving three more!)
This doesn't just apply to pro athletes, but to all of us and in all areas of life -- ranging from doing the dishes, winning in sports, trading stocks and running for president. When all the traffic lights are green and Monday goes really well, the rest of the week somehow unfolds smoothly. You might close a big deal at work, then suddenly chat up someone way out of your league on the bus and score a date.
On the flip side, a negative type of momentum can also happen: when we feel a perceived loss, it's easy to fall into a negative spiral. If you've ever forget your wallet and then got stuck in traffic, you're probably less confident that you'll have a spectacular day.
In physics, momentum = mass x velocity. You can think about your psychological momentum in these terms as well.
For example, when I decided to quit my job a year ago, I was coming off a lot of winning streaks -- getting promoted, making bonuses, and learning a lot. I had velocity. I put a huge amount of effort into it, it gave me confidence, security and a sense of purpose. I had mass. Multiply the two and I had quite a lot of momentum coming off of four years.
When I put a halt to it all to go in a different direction, it felt like I jumped off the treadmill. But it wasn't sudden, by any means, and leaving was planned well in advance. In fact, four years before I quit the company I had specific goals that I wanted to accomplish (saving money, building a network, etc.), and thus in many ways leaving felt like a natural, expected transition. I was excited to move onto the next chapter of my life to relax a bit, then travel extensively and start writing.
The first day that I didn't actually have to go in to work on a Monday was very strange. I woke up at 6 a.m., as it was natural at this point after years of early mornings. Of course, I had nowhere to be. I half-expected a cathartic wave of tears, or burst of energy and excitement to get moving on pursuing new projects.
But I felt like John Travolta in Pulp fiction, waiting around, confused -- none of these feelings ever showed up.
I felt empty and a bit lost, so I just sat there and stared aimlessly at the wall for a few minutes. After the extended stillness came a strong pressure pushing down on my shoulders. Where was this coming from, I wondered? The pressure quickly morphed into a feeling of guilt and anxiety, and I had the very distinct feeling that I should be doing something.
I felt a sort of "residual pressure" after years of going to work at a specific time, rushing from one meeting to the next, reporting certain targets and so forth. You really work on a minute by minute, hour by hour schedule, with of a goal being an ever more productive and efficient worker-bee. These are the basic tenets of our business world. I can only imagine what shock Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos will be in for, who plan their schedules in increments, assuming they ever retire.
When you suddenly stop those activities, that doesn't mean your brain suddenly rewires itself to function a different way. Not at all -- you just want to keep on going. But unlike the feeling you get after the treadmill, which fades quickly, the residual pressure you get is proportional to the amount of time you've spent doing a certain job, along with factors like the type of job you've been doing. The feeling can be overwhelming.
Now, on the other hand, perhaps that sort of existential angst could be a driver for you to keep on going. But because it can be so disorienting (what do I do? where do I go?), having a plan to do X or Y doesn't always work out so easily when your identity is still attached to your previous way of living and working. Even waking up at different times since you're no longer going in could have a huge impact on your mood, as indicated by studies on our circadian rhythms.
The point is, start something sooner rather than later, build momentum, and then it'll be a lot easier to transition once you do quit. Try to keep core parts of your routine -- eating/sleeping at the same time (assuming it was a healthy amount) and it'll be a lot smoother!
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