If a son comes home and tells his parents he has found a permanent job in a prestigious company, it will be a day of celebration and happiness for the whole family. But if a son comes home and says he has decided to leave work, or stopped seeking for a job, because he wants to start a business, it will be a sad day for all.
The idea that happiness is in safety and in minimizing uncertainty is very present in our society, and everyone wants stability and comfort for her kids. This is the dominant culture in which we’ve educated our youth.
I have explained this thought dozens of times in entrepreneurship lectures, and I was convinced that I was different; but I discovered recently that the epidemic of conformity and risk aversion as a modus vivendi is a tremendously widespread plague in our society, which is strained even those who, like me, are apostles of entrepreneurship.
Around the end of last year, my niece Marta, with who I maintain an excellent relationship, I have shared many things, and who I love and consider her like a daughter, asked me my opinion on a topic. We sat quietly and she explained his plan to start a business where they would offer a new service like menu type selected baskets of products at home, with accurately selected ingredients in quality and quantity, so that the user could easily prepare his meal. And she was decided to leave a good job in a recognized training consultancy, where she was highly regarded and had a pretty good projection.
I admit it: I was blocked. I could only answer her that I needed time to think and I would give my opinion after some days. But really, I had been victim of the fears I had so often denounced in my talks.
I could not avoid thinking why the hell my niece wanted to embark on such an uncertain adventure, with so little solid basis and a high opportunity cost for her age and her education. She was 24, studied a prestigious career (Economics & M.B.A. at ESADE), spoke 4 languages, had a good appearance, strong communication and leadership skills (class delegate throughout the race) , and a very clear opportunities to work in a big company and make a distinguished and/or international career. And now she wanted to throw away all these assets to set up an start up where she was going to be the president, director of marketing, main seller, community manager, head of IT, responsible for production and distribution, administration and taxation expert, cleaning lady, etc …
It took me an effort to react, but at the end, I concluded that I was the luckiest uncle in the world, I wanted my children to be brave like her, I had to give her all my support, and it was really valuable that someone who could choose a kind of life a lot easier in the short term, with a cool visit card from a good company, with a very decent salary and a certain security to let her live it up this stage of youth, had chosen the path to make their own project and pay the price to pull out his own company.
I really do not know if she will succeed on this project, but I am sure that she is having a great capacity for personal leadership, and she is putting the basis to have a character and a powerful attitude to face success in both the personal and professional life. What she will learn at this stage will be much better than anything she can learn in any other job and what she learned in the university; and even it goes well or not, it will be a springboard to a future that she has decided to create and discover, not resigned to rent to others all his energies, hopes and efforts to carry out projects that do not belong to her.
And if you fear to try to fight for your dreams, being single and having a tight staff costs structure, imagine the fear you will have later on if you have a family and a much higher obligations. If you see it clear and you do not go for it, you will always will live in fear in your life… and when you will be fed up to work for a multinational that exploits your capabilities, or you will be in a precarious work situation for the problems with the contracting company, or directly you will see that you are not happy with your work, it will be for you very difficult to decide a major change or taking the risk to start your own project. And then, surely you would think, "Why I was not brave at 24 to activate that crazy idea I had?"
Last January, Marta and her partner Rochelle launched their start up project: BON & PETIT … I never do any particular company advertising on my POSTS, but this time I do it shamelessly, and ask you to visit their website (www.bonandpetit.es ) and, if you think it can fit you, you try their products. They are very good, and they meet a very specific need, covered in a very practical and innovative way.
Marta is one of many examples of an ever growing group of talented and well trained young people, who see the entrepreneur fact as an alternative, at least as valid as putting their own abilities to the service of others professional projects. At the end of the day, even the risks assumed are high, they are very small compared the huge risk of not living the life you really want.
Congratulations niece, I love you and I admire you …