Episode 17- When should an employee transition to being a full-time entrepreneur
Ravi: Hi and welcome to episode number 17 of Spontaneous Conversations. This is Ravi Gundlapalli, founder, CEO of Mentor Cloud.
Rajesh: Hi, this is Rajesh Setty, I’m a serial entrepreneur and a co-conspirator with Ravi on this Spontaneous Conversation series.
Ravi: Excellent Rajesh so, the topic, Rajesh, we selected is something that, [inaudible 00:26] come to me, so I thought maybe it would be a good conversation to have, is when does a person who is working full time in a company and has a bunch of ideas, which was the topic for the previous episode, is when do they make the transition from being an employee to actually becoming a full time entrepreneur? I think there’s a problem that many people face. So, I just wanted us to discuss what are some of those checklists or things that individuals should look at before they make the switch. A very important switch at that.
Rajesh: Yeah, it’s a great topic, Ravi, only because we both can relate to it. We both can relate to it very well because we were employees and we became entrepreneurs and somebody somewhere always switches from that employee to an entrepreneur kind of thing. So, I was talking to [inaudible 01:18] and all those things on the same topic and he was… [crosstalk 01:21]
Rajesh: Yeah, so it relates very well. And there she was mentioning that during the speaking engagements, and in general, because he’s a multi-billionaire and very, very successful entrepreneur. People keep coming in asking him one question; “listen, I have this idea and then, I think it’s going to be a fantastic idea. Should I do it”? And [indiscernable 01:45] is always, “don’t do it.” And I asked him why would he say that? He said something very interesting, Ravi. He said, if somebody is waiting for an external validation to start on something, they’re not ready for it yet.
Ravi: That’s beautiful, the validation has to come from the inside.
Rajesh: …inside, and he was telling the keyword, Raj, he said, is conviction. What is the level of conviction you have on your idea? And he gave a beautiful analogy, Ravi, and I want to share it.
Ravi: Hmm please.
Rajesh: … and he said, hey Raj, imagine as a young kid, they brought you your first bicycle, it so happened that you learned to ride a bicycle and the first [inaudible 02:26] could have bought it– your parents, and then you were ready to ride it, but [inaudible 02:34]. And then you want to quickly assemble it and ride it, and your parents told you that, hey you can’t ride it, it’s already evening, but tomorrow morning you can ride it. And imagine what you would have done that whole night. You almost would have not slept, thinking God, when will the sudden rise, and then I want to ride it. That’s the kind of wanting you need to have in the entrepreneurial world for you to say, I’m ready to jump in.
Ravi: That’s a great story, because an entrepreneur have to have that childlike curiosity, child-like energy, childlike belief so, the story is really very appropriate. And having the conditions from the inside, I think is a very important checklist. I’m ready for it, and even if the entire world says no, now we talked about the customer validation, the idea of validation so, I think while you’re working, I would recommend people to validate their idea and to make sure that there is something there. It sort of featured as a full product, and then, but when you, when you are really a fully convinced and are willing to give your hundred percent, maybe 200 percent from our own experiences of being entrepreneurs. So, I think that’s a great story from very, very successful entrepreneur. And I made the switch when I look back at my own journey is I was really convinced that I saw something and it was bugging me.
And I am reminded of a quote by India’s president, former president, who recently passed away. Dr. Abdul Kalam. He said, “Dream is not what you see when you’re asleep. Dream is what keeps you awake.” So, for me personally, Rajesh, that desire to do what I’m doing today was keeping me awake. I just couldn’t wait for me to do this. And I just started one day, just cut it, and do it, and of course, there are a few others that I wanted to save when to do it. And what are the checks and balances you want to keep before you do that. But it’s the dream that keeps you awake.
Rajesh: Yeah, [indiscernable 04:53]… Of course, he’s always super insightful. And they said the time to do it is when not doing it is no longer optional. You’re so much of convinced about the idea and they were committed to the idea. It’s like you can’t not do it anymore. That time has to come. And I want to step back once. Why people will not make that switch? I want to talk about… [crosstalk 05:20]
Ravi: Yes, yes, because that’s where they’re stuck Rajesh. Most people are stuck because there’s some fear or something like that. But yeah, please elaborate on why the switch doesn’t happen.
Rajesh: The switch does not happen, Ravi because think about it. As you got older, the stakes get higher to make that switch in many ways. One is professionally, the other is personally. So, when you are young, you’re not married, suppose something goes wrong and everything. The only personal you can [inaudible 05:48] is you. As you get older, you get married and now you think of one more person at least, saying that I can take a brash decision, or a risky decision, but I have to make sure that one more person is covered because it’s not just you. Once you get the kids then you have, depending on how many kids you have, it’s the risk factor might take place. Then you buy a home so, and when you buy a home, and now you have to think about, not just one person — your kids. But I have to say by the way, I have to worry about the market. [crosstalk 06:26]
Ravi: Correct, so it’s the family; it’s the market — what else?
Rajesh: And after that you have also got aging parents because it’s not just your family and kids, but it’s also the parents, siblings and every thing because they’re also getting older. So, the taint of what can go wrong, what can break, keeps getting higher. And plus that is on the personal side, the professional side, there is a whole other intellectual problem. The fact that you got an idea, and you want to pursue it, you must be really smart. Where did you get that smart label is because you are very good in your current job? So, when you have that really good smart label attached to it; in my own world, you are very smart, people know you, but suddenly they are now playing another game, they are not that smart because they have never done it before.
Ravi: So, people are afraid that in this new space, do you have the capacity and the wisdom to survive on your own versus being under the umbrella of a large corporation? Right? So, that’s where the fear comes in, Rajesh, because they’re afraid that, you know, can I manage?
Rajesh: Yes. There is a third one which is even deeper but that never gets discussed. Is do you have enough reciprocity built in, in your bank account so that when you leave, and embark on a journey, the people who were all friends because you were in a good position in a big company, will they come and support you in a venture that has a 90 percent chance of failure?
Ravi: That’s a fantastic point because in my own journey, Rajesh, the day I decided to become an entrepreneur and I told people, by then I had already learned a lot of that so-called, you know, what did you call it?
Ravi: Reciprocity quotient, right? I think, just to expand on that word because that’s a very complicated word, but once you explain it, it is about what have you done to other people. You should be helping a lot of people, but being able to build that quotient that when you do need help because as an entrepreneur you and I know we need help. We are all alone. In a company, you have secretaries, you have everything, you have benefits. As an entrepreneur you have nothing. So, unless you have made enough of that so-called deposit of goodwill, I don’t think you should jump. And many people make the mistake and the fail as entrepreneur because nobody wants to give them. And for me personally, I’m so grateful. I kind of realize this early on I didn’t do this because I want to be an entrepreneur. I think we all should be working towards building that reciprocity quotient or so-called [inaudible 09:23] quotient by helping people as much as possible because that deposit will come to you handy and you become an entrepreneur.
Rajesh: Yes, correct. So, in my opinion, the way I always think what makes an entrepreneur successful? There are many, many skills, right? But I always think that do you have push button access to great help, and because you will never be able to figure out everything. There is so many moving parts. The product has to be right. User interface has to be right and sales distribution channel; there is teamwork, and competition that’s catching up. There is no way you’ll be able to figure everything. Imagine, with the push of a button, you get access to amazing help and insight. Automatically the art of succeeding goes up. But many times people don’t realize that a lot of their friends are friends professionally because of their current position in their big company.
Ravi: Oh, that’s, and again a very important element, I think Rajesh, that you bring up is just because you are doing extremely well in the corporate world. It does not guarantee your success as an entrepreneur because you’re under an umbrella, you’re under a very protective environment where people who are nice to you because of your position, like you said, they either report to you or they are doing a project with you, but once you are on your own, there’s no obligation. There’s no professional obligation to what we do to help you. And so, that’s a very, very important checklist item.
Rajesh: Correct. And to add to the complexity, Ravi, If you start meeting someone to validate the idea when you are in a big position, they will definitely give you that meeting because they want to be nice to you and you still hold a position in the big company. So obviously, he will think “look at me. I’m so smart, I’m just asking a lot of my professional friends for a meeting to discuss my idea.” It’s so simple, they’re just meeting me. They are not interested in the idea. They are interested in continuing to build that relationship with you. It’s a contest in reading.
Ravi: Yeah so, another checklist is when you’re meeting people to validate your idea and you’re moving in to switch from being an employee to an entrepreneur, being able to screen those courtesy meetings versus people that are genuinely willing to work with you, help you open their network, put some money, or maybe join you. You have to be able to screen that because courtesy meeting will not do anything. They’re doing themselves a favor, they’re not doing anything to you
Rajesh: Correct, because they think that by meeting, they took care of your request, and in the process, they now earned a right to make another request for you that might help them pursue whatever they want to pursue because of your position. The second kind of meetings that come up are curiosity meetings, because everybody wants to know what’s happening.
Ravi: Yeah, what are you doing? What’s the idea? [laughs]
Rajesh: Correct, and they may not even be interested in doing anything with you, but they are just curious. They know that you are very successfully in your current position. What kind of an idea that Ravi, and Raj have come up with. I’m just curious and they will ask you a lot of questions and there’s almost makes you feel like what they’re really interested. They’re really interested just to know what you’re doing.
Ravi: Correct, not to help. Not to help. So, I think this is another important topic to expand on, but a few things to kind of bring everything together is make sure you have built enough help quotient that people are willing to help when you need it, as you will need lots of it when you are alone, make sure that your safety net in terms of savings, in terms of your family; in terms of your parents and children. There is an enough safety net built that even if things go, don’t go well for a year, two years, you can sustain and make sure that all the validation that we talked about in the previous episode of your idea and how big it is. And there are people that are willing to put money and time into your… so I would say those are the three things that come to my mind.
Rajesh: Yeah. In closing, we’re coming to about 14 minutes. So, in closing, what I want to say Ravi, is that do you have people saying, “do you have a plan B?” I always say, before you jump in, I always ask people, “do you have a plan D?” And it’s not Plan A, B, C, and D, it’s doomsday plan. If everything goes south, do you have a plan D to recover from it, without risking your family and the structure and not causing heartburn for people that love you and also your own reputation because you don’t want to short change anyone. So, the only way to do it is like you rightly said, you really log good karma.
Ravi: Correct. And you will need lots of it as an entrepreneur because we’ve all been helped as entrepreneurs, and both me and Rajesh can clearly vouch for the fact that we are who we are today because many people have helped us and the reason they helped us is because we have done some good Karma ourselves. Mentoring people, helping people, guiding them and making them successful and using our time. Because it’s all. It all comes back to you.
So, with that, this is Ravi Gundlapalli, and I encourage everybody to think like an entrepreneur, but really go through this very important checklist items before you make the switch so that you can save yourself a lot of grief. Ravi Gundlapalli, founder, CEO of Mentor Cloud.
Rajesh: And this is Rajesh Setty, signing off. You can read more about me at Rajesh Setty.com. Until next time, goodbye. Yeah.
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