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You're intelligent, very well educated and ambitious. Moreover, you're young, single and have very few responsibilities in comparison to what you're going to have in a few years time. So why are you wasting your life fucking around in Excel for 18 hours a day and jumping through hoops for your MD?

This thought popped into my head earlier this week and refuses to leave. I think I've been kidding myself by saying that I need to spend time 'learning some real skills' or 'I'll wait until I'm older and wiser'. (It's also been inspired by a Banker who was telling me how he'd recently advised on a Secondary buy-out whereby the original founder had been allowed to take out PS20m)

What's stopping us? Fear? How many times are we going to say to ourselves "I'll just wait until my Bonus comes in and then I'll do it"?

What was Patrick's (WSO) turning point?

Disclaimer: I know this shot doesn't apply to everyone, but I think it applies to alot.

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Comments (93)

  • DurbanDiMangus's picture

    No.. you're right, no need to sugar coat it. It should apply to most. Let's face it the traditional paths are overvalued: there is always some other eager dude willing to work more hours for less money--as evidenced by many entry-level posts on this board.

    As we've noticed the entre path, carving your own career etc whatever you want to call it, is a widely considered alternative by many--even post-mba professionals who did 2+2 type stints.

    The flipside is that the 2+2 track provides distinguishable value by way of a real finance skillset, and that dropping out to start a venture-- if it fails and you need to come back to corporate america may not provide enough of a marketable resume. It is therefore imperative to think long and hard about whether your venture can produce results to show that this choice was lucrative enough to have made sense--and importantly, to help you distinguish yourself from the myriad of dudes who just couldn't hack it and are sitting at home but say they are actually inventing the next big thing...

  • swagon's picture

    No money, no idea, no clue where to even start, and the industry I would want to pursue is very complex and takes a while to master.

    After some experience as an IB analyst in my desired industry, I'd probably feel much more knowledgeable and confident, and might have some money saved up...but I'd still need an idea which is a massive hurdle, and the idea couldn't be too capital intensive (no desire to do an internet startup) given the meager savings of an analyst.

  • xfactor's picture

    im out of capital. halfway done with a prototype

  • econ's picture

    The reason most smart people aren't entrepreneurs is simple in my opinion: most people (smart or otherwise) are risk-averse.

  • DurbanDiMangus's picture

    yea good point on the capital intensiveness/capital efficiency aspect, which is obv a given requirement cap investment be as low as possible for obv irr purposes..

  • In reply to econ
    DurbanDiMangus's picture

    econ:
    The reason most smart people aren't entrepreneurs is simple in my opinion: most people (smart or otherwise) are risk-averse.
    Most societies in maturation and eventual decline tend to exhibit irrational risk-aversion
  • sayandarula's picture

    you will be more successful as an investment banker than you will be as an entreprenuer. don't get it twisted... an OVERWHELMING majority of entreprenuers will FAIL. i can say with quite a bit of confidence that your company WILL NOT be the next facebook, whereas fucking around with excel for 18 hours will give you a $300k+ salary in your thirties (making you EXTREMELY successful, relatively speaking).

    it would be foolish to take an entrepreneurial path without understanding the risks and what you are foregoing to be on that path. that shit is not for everyone.

    Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

  • In reply to sayandarula
    Bi-Winning's picture

    sayandarula:
    you will be more successful as an investment banker than you will be as an entreprenuer. don't get it twisted... an OVERWHELMING majority of entreprenuers will FAIL. i can say with quite a bit of confidence that your company WILL NOT be the next facebook, whereas fucking around with excel for 18 hours will give you a $300k+ salary in your thirties (making you EXTREMELY successful, relatively speaking).

    it would be foolish to take an entrepreneurial path without understanding the risks and what you are foregoing to be on that path. that shit is not for everyone.

    The same can be said about prop trading. Then again, most consistently profitable traders who started out in their early 20s hit seven figures by their 30s.

    I win here, I win there...

  • In reply to Bi-Winning
    DurbanDiMangus's picture

    Bi-Winning:
    sayandarula:
    you will be more successful as an investment banker than you will be as an entreprenuer. don't get it twisted... an OVERWHELMING majority of entreprenuers will FAIL. i can say with quite a bit of confidence that your company WILL NOT be the next facebook, whereas fucking around with excel for 18 hours will give you a $300k+ salary in your thirties (making you EXTREMELY successful, relatively speaking). it would be foolish to take an entrepreneurial path without understanding the risks and what you are foregoing to be on that path. that shit is not for everyone.
    The same can be said about prop trading. Then again, most consistently profitable traders who started out in their early 20s hit seven figures by their 30s.
    to add to this, the accumulation of experience from both prop trading and serial entrepreneurship has value. While you may fail at first, productively failing and constantly improving will render upward sloping benefits. The problem here, as the penguin-avatar dude mentioned is that in your first or second or third or fourth venture you may fail. That attitude is status quo, and people are afraid their failure wont be valued in the marketplace as good experience because as a society we don't believe in productive failure. Because we are risk averse as fuck because our demographics are aging and driving risk aversion even further.
  • YoungHedge's picture

    I am very entrepreneurial person and plan on starting on my own hedge fund. I've taken the first steps by acquiring my RIA designation and acquired an auditor for my track record with the small amount of funds I was able to raise.
    Unlike other industries, in the investment management requires a few years of track record and some experience at a bigger firm to build credibility (and maybe a CFA). It's a tough sell to raise money as someone in your early 20's with no experience. Once I have more of a trading record as an RIA/with client money and/or experience on Wall Street, then I will have chance to brach off. Until then, working for an Ibank or mutual/hedge fund as a research analyst or trader is an excellent way to learn and improve both my credibility and investing skills.

  • Stringer Bell's picture

    Rant:

    For me this is a new brainer. Not trying to knock starting your own company, but it's just not economically pheasible (sp?) for a lot of kids comming out of school with debt or zero dollars.

    I'd say if you're a brilliant engineer or uber creative self starter since you where young, then yes go for it. But lets face it, most of us aren't, moreover, most of us (myself included) are fucking retards despite 3.8 GPA's and what have you comming out of school. I didn't realize how clueless I was until I started banking, that's just me.

    For me, I figured if I started a company out of school I'd likely spin my wheels for 2.5 years with a probable outcome of a failed knock of some stupid social site. Go look at TechStars track record of their incubated companies, ~75 companies funded 2 acquisitions and ~<30-40% unfunded. I think VC's and TechCrunchers are too fucking high and mighty, and def sluff off the downsides of starting a company/very quick to knock any other post grad job that isn't starting your own company.

    I took a class my last semester at college via our law school and it was taught by a really prominent startup attorney and venture capitalist. Really opened my eyes as to the business of VC and start up companies. They paint a picture that VC and entrepreneurship is some big benevolent crusade. It's not, it's a business like any other and VC's know this full well. Also, a ton of kids in the class where all amped up on starting their own company, but during candid conversations disclosed they just wanted to start a company as a path to become a VC. Fucking bullshit. You know who's going to be a VC? People who are really fucking good at making making money or have a shit tone of money (Ashton Kutcher anyone?) not some broke dumb fuck law grad who started OodleMyDoodle.com and only noteworthy exit was folding up 3 failed startups (harsh, but it happens, 10x more than not). Starting a business isn't a fucking joke, not a loveable loser Disney movie, I've seen plenty of extremely talented comp sci grads and startup junkies go absolutely nowhere with really cool biz plans. VC's and entrepreneurs my give off the aura of being care free and fully satisfied with life but just from personally knowing very sucessful individuals in both arenas can see that they're just fucking cold blooded and money hungry as your Dbag hitter MD at XX ibank.

    A good time start a company in my opinion is when you know your potential companies space inside and out, i.e. how you can make it work (at least on paper) financially, not only where to get the money for it but 3-4 niche investors that you could call up personally that would seriously consider your exec sum after a 20 min phone call/email, a specific targeted potential clientel universe, a detailed results driven/substantiated internal biz plan/"road-map", and a realistic liquidity event at 5-10 years. Is this a slamdunk biz model? No, def not. But it's much more realistic to this way.

  • In reply to DurbanDiMangus
    econ's picture

    DurbanDiMangus:
    econ:
    The reason most smart people aren't entrepreneurs is simple in my opinion: most people (smart or otherwise) are risk-averse.
    Most societies in maturation and eventual decline tend to exhibit irrational risk-aversion

    Who's to say it's irrational? I desperately want to be an entrepreneur, but I still see where my "opponents" are coming from. I might wind up busting my ass for $30K/year, over and over again and never really have a moderately successful business. Meanwhile, my friends and current co-workers will be working 40 - 50 hour weeks and making six-figures 5 - 10 years from now. Once you factor in the added fear of failure and stress of being your own boss, and combine that with the opportunity cost discussed above, I'm not sure they're all that irrational.

  • In reply to econ
    DurbanDiMangus's picture

    econ:
    DurbanDiMangus:
    econ:
    The reason most smart people aren't entrepreneurs is simple in my opinion: most people (smart or otherwise) are risk-averse.
    Most societies in maturation and eventual decline tend to exhibit irrational risk-aversion

    Who's to say it's irrational? I desperately want to be an entrepreneur, but I still see where my "opponents" are coming from. I might wind up busting my ass for $30K/year, over and over again and never really have a moderately successful business. Meanwhile, my friends and current co-workers will be working 40 - 50 hour weeks and making six-figures 5 - 10 years from now. Once you factor in the added fear of failure and stress of being your own boss, and combine that with the opportunity cost discussed above, I'm not sure they're all that irrational.

    It's irrational to be as risk-averse as we are, collectively devaluing productive failure. productive failure is a good thing, as you can learn and continuously improve. From your posts you seem like a smart dude and I think if you joined a startup and got to wear many hats that experience would be massively accretive to your goal of one day launching a business that will create tremendous wealth for you, likely in excess of traditional paths, but you have to have a market, a product, a capital base, domain expertise (etc etc etc), and have to be very systematic about learning from that experience and making it seem valuable to others.

    @ stringerbell--i hear you. And yes on the "high and mighty and downplaying risks" naive enthusiasm of startups--you're right. But the reality is, no one is putting risk capital against innovation, r&d, and other societally valuable projects like VCs (corporate or LP owned) and super-angels and university research deps. No one. Where would we be today if this kind of intelligent risk taking was not part of the very moral and socioeconomic fiber of our country, a cultural disposition that undoubtedly values productive failure that you can learn from. We would not be the kind of economic superpower we are today. That's why entrepreneurship is a priceless asset that we must invigorate, and that's why we should all have some entre experience in our careers--both for ourselves and for innovation's sake...

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  • Independent Gestion's picture

    I've done start-ups and I could have made decent money, but to be an entrepreneur in the sector I want to be in; I need the connections and training of banking/VC. I want to be a Cleantech entrepreneur but at this point I only have the ability to create service/retail/web 2.0 businesses. That's why I need the mindless excel and long hours and sketch work-life balance. That doesn't apply to everyone, but for me it's an unfortunate necessity.

    "Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to become the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men. Blood, whips and guns or dollars."

  • Freshcut's picture

    If you want to be an entrepreneur be an entrepreneur if you like banking do banking and the same goes for trading. Each have there ups and down and are all different. To be a successful entrepreneur though you have to come up with a half decent idea. With out that you will be just another website out of millions on the internet or just another restaurant dishing out food.

    If you have an idea people like getting capital is easy, its the idea where most people fail. The good thing about banking is that you don't have to come up with the next Google to become at least relatively successful. Where its more like all or nothing with entrepreneurs. Yeah you could fail then pick up the pieces and start over again but you have to remember the chances of you hitting it big off an idea that no one on earth has thought of yet is pretty much like hitting the lottery. You can try fresh every week and hope, but the odds will never be in your favor.

  • In reply to Stringer Bell
    TheKing's picture

    Stringer Bell:
    Rant:

    For me this is a new brainer. Not trying to knock starting your own company, but it's just not economically pheasible (sp?) for a lot of kids comming out of school with debt or zero dollars.

    I'd say if you're a brilliant engineer or uber creative self starter since you where young, then yes go for it. But lets face it, most of us aren't, moreover, most of us (myself included) are fucking retards despite 3.8 GPA's and what have you comming out of school. I didn't realize how clueless I was until I started banking, that's just me.

    For me, I figured if I started a company out of school I'd likely spin my wheels for 2.5 years with a probable outcome of a failed knock of some stupid social site. Go look at TechStars track record of their incubated companies, ~75 companies funded 2 acquisitions and ~<30-40% unfunded. I think VC's and TechCrunchers are too fucking high and mighty, and def sluff off the downsides of starting a company/very quick to knock any other post grad job that isn't starting your own company.

    I took a class my last semester at college via our law school and it was taught by a really prominent startup attorney and venture capitalist. Really opened my eyes as to the business of VC and start up companies. They paint a picture that VC and entrepreneurship is some big benevolent crusade. It's not, it's a business like any other and VC's know this full well. Also, a ton of kids in the class where all amped up on starting their own company, but during candid conversations disclosed they just wanted to start a company as a path to become a VC. Fucking bullshit. You know who's going to be a VC? People who are really fucking good at making making money or have a shit tone of money (Ashton Kutcher anyone?) not some broke dumb fuck law grad who started OodleMyDoodle.com and only noteworthy exit was folding up 3 failed startups (harsh, but it happens, 10x more than not). Starting a business isn't a fucking joke, not a loveable loser Disney movie, I've seen plenty of extremely talented comp sci grads and startup junkies go absolutely nowhere with really cool biz plans. VC's and entrepreneurs my give off the aura of being care free and fully satisfied with life but just from personally knowing very sucessful individuals in both arenas can see that they're just fucking cold blooded and money hungry as your Dbag hitter MD at XX ibank.

    A good time start a company in my opinion is when you know your potential companies space inside and out, i.e. how you can make it work (at least on paper) financially, not only where to get the money for it but 3-4 niche investors that you could call up personally that would seriously consider your exec sum after a 20 min phone call/email, a specific targeted potential clientel universe, a detailed results driven/substantiated internal biz plan/"road-map", and a realistic liquidity event at 5-10 years. Is this a slamdunk biz model? No, def not. But it's much more realistic to this way.

    This is fucking explosive real talk. Great fucking post.

    People toss around "why go into IBD? Why not start a company?" like it's some simple bullshit. As a recent grad, you likely have no connections, no special skills, no specialized knowledge, no capital, nothing. So, yeah, you might be able to start something, but realistically, you'll need some real world experience and some money first. People get caught up in the hype by reading bullshit TechCrunch articles about all of this duplicative and worthless "social" businesses and think that there is going to be some fun and easy way out of working hard. Shit just isn't true, and most of these shit-bag social companies will be gone in a few years.

    With that said, if you can start oodlemydoodle.com and make bank, go for it, hahaha. Otherwise, get out into the real world, make some money, get some real experience, and start a business one day when you've got more to bring to the table than just the desire to start a business.

  • In reply to Stringer Bell
    econ's picture

    Stringer Bell:
    For me this is a new brainer. Not trying to knock starting your own company, but it's just not economically pheasible (sp?) for a lot of kids comming out of school with debt or zero dollars.

    Felix Dennis disagrees. In his book "How To Get Rich" he argues that that group is the most likely to succeed...

  • In reply to sayandarula
    sayandarula's picture

    sayandarula:
    you will be more successful as an investment banker than you will be as an entreprenuer. don't get it twisted... an OVERWHELMING majority of entreprenuers will FAIL. i can say with quite a bit of confidence that your company WILL NOT be the next facebook, whereas fucking around with excel for 18 hours will give you a $300k+ salary in your thirties (making you EXTREMELY successful, relatively speaking).

    it would be foolish to take an entrepreneurial path without understanding the risks and what you are foregoing to be on that path. that shit is not for everyone.

    a lot of excellent comments here.... kudos to OP for starting this dialogue. many good points on the virtues of serial entrepreneurship and productive failure have been brought up.

    i think i was a bit harsh on my bashing of budding young entrepreneurs in my above comment. i'd like to be an entrepreneur one day, but just feel that, as a recent college grad, i don't have enough of an understanding of how shit works in the real world to start my own business, and i think this applies to the best of us.

    the entrepreneurial spirit is great and a necessity to be a successful entrepreneur. if, however, you don't have the know-how and experience to go with it, the odds will be stacked against you.

    Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

  • WallStreetOasis.com's picture

    think I'll chime in here since the OP asked what my "turning point" was...

    So, I definitely see both sides of the argument here. I love hearing about people going out on their own, and some people can really thrive in that environment, but it definitely is not for everyone.

    For myself, I can't pretend like I took some HUGE risk starting WSO. It was just a simple message board 5 years ago because that was the only "business" I could manage while still working in PE and iBanking was the only domain "expertise" I had. Point is, WSO or iBankingOasis wasn't really a "good idea" - it was just fun, kind of stupid and simple. BUT I did learn a LOT along the way -- mostly about managing people and the crazy world of online business. The point is that we had no "runway", we had no "exit", we just wanted to grow and make sure expenses didn't get out of control. (That's what is nice about internet businesses, you can start them and fail and you won't be $100k poorer).

    Even when I went to business school, WSO was in no way bringing in anywhere near what I needed to live off of comfortably, unless I moved abroad. But I made a decision that I would make it a real business, finally put some real time and effort behind it that I wasn't able to do in the first few years. so that's all I did in B School. I refused to recruit, and instead focused on the business in the Summer of 2009, and that is really when it finally "took off".

    I'm still not making MD money but I know that I would never trade places for the freedom this business gives me. Is it tough sometimes? Yes, there are ups and downs and you lose the office camaraderie, but I know that I'll never look back and regret taking the (minimal) risk I did to make the decision to go full time.

    I think there are a lot of entrepreneurs out there that like to hype the lifestyle and say "just go for it", but I think sometimes you need to be careful who you are saying that to...everybody has a different situation (school loans, job prospects, start-up ideas, etc), so the decision to "go for it" is really personal - as it should be. There is nothing wrong with going the more traditional route. I would say just for the experience, at some point everyone should try at least one business out, even if it is a small one. Starting it out as a side gig (you can work at night if you aren't working 70+hrs a week) can really give you a taste without all the risk. You have to remember that there will be multiple decision points along the way. If you see it's headed nowhere and you are only 6 months or a year in, you may be able to get back on track pretty easily if you can tell a good story in an interview.

    Either way, good luck,
    Patrick

  • leveredarb's picture

    the main issue with entrepreneurship is its subject to serious survivorship bias.

    You only see the Zuckerbergs in the world, and never see the guy that lived in his parents basement for 5 years whilst trying to start a business, failed miserably, and now works at starbucks as he could not get a job due to lack of resume(This maybe a bit extreme, but nevertheless potential downsides are not to be ignored.)

  • lxwarr30's picture

    The hardest part is having the right idea. If you knew you had a good idea you wouldn't be on a forum because you would already be out creating it. Hopefully I hit that eureka moment, but until then I will work toward finance. Problem is the idea can't be too complex, inolve topics you know nothing about, have no means of creating, etc. I think the best way to become a successful entreprenuer would be to work in an industry, see what you think they aren't do correctly, and then start your own business where you do it properly (netflix, zipcar). Unless you come up with a brand new idea work on fixing older business models.

  • In reply to leveredarb
    adapt or die's picture

    leveredarb:
    the main issue with entrepreneurship is its subject to serious survivorship bias.

    You only see the Zuckerbergs in the world, and never see the guy that lived in his parents basement for 5 years whilst trying to start a business, failed miserably, and now works at starbucks as he could not get a job due to lack of resume(This maybe a bit extreme, but nevertheless potential downsides are not to be ignored.)

    nailed it +1

  • txjustin's picture

    A lot of you guys are looking at Entrepreurship all wrong, in my opinion. You are acting like if you don't invent the next Google, Apple. or .com and fail that's it. I have a different philosophy when it comes to entrepreneurship. I want several small streams of income versus one giant hit it big idea. I already have a few in the very early stages, but those are based off of my dads business. Basically, I want 5-10 businesses with decent revenue versus one with giant revenue. I guess it's a form of diversification. I'm not saying I woudln't want to get lucky with one of those ideas and hit it big.

    I forgot to add, most of the small businesses can be started on your free time with a fairly minimal startup cost.

  • In reply to txjustin
    accountingbyday's picture

    txjustin:
    A lot of you guys are looking at Entrepreurship all wrong, in my opinion. You are acting like if you don't invent the next Google, Apple. or .com and fail that's it. I have a different philosophy when it comes to entrepreneurship. I want several small streams of income versus one giant hit it big idea. I already have a few in the very early stages, but those are based off of my dads business. Basically, I want 5-10 businesses with decent revenue versus one with giant revenue. I guess it's a form of diversification. I'm not saying I woudln't want to get lucky with one of those ideas and hit it big.

    I forgot to add, most of the small businesses can be started on your free time with a fairly minimal startup cost.

    Sure, if you can't start the next Google why not start 10 relatively successful companies? The problem with that is I honestly don't have a good idea to start 1 relatively successful company.

  • Ben Shalom Bernanke's picture

    Great question and awesome insight from Patrick. Most folks are risk-averse and avoid ever reaching out to see what they are capable of creating.

  • In reply to adapt or die
    ragnar danneskjöld's picture

    adapt or die:

    nailed it +1

    Entrepreneurship isn't for everyone. Some very good points have been made here, but for simplicity's sake I'll get my two cents in by saying this:

    There is nothing wrong with being risk averse... as long as you are willing to concede you will be limited in what you can accomplish to the same degree. If you are comfortable with your current course and it provides what you want then so-be-it.

    Here's what I have to say about entrepreneurs:

    Greatest fucking people in the history of the world, and there needs to be more of them. Its not about being the next Facebook, Microsoft, etc. Its about ownership, taking pride in what you do, answering to no one but yourself, accomplishing everything you can, stopping at nothing and reaping the rewards of your hard work. That may include years served as an underling gather necessary experience as one post explained. It doesn't mean quitting you job, spending your days in deep thought, poor and saying your an entrepreneur. It takes preparation and sacrifice. It may take living on 30k while you make 70k to make it happen ( It may take living on 30 and making 30 to make it happen), but in the end its yours and for those who a true entrepreneurs know that sacrifice is worth it. The value of being your own boss, believing in yourself (when others don't), and reaching your full potential regardless of the potential paycheck, ultimate self satisfaction, maximization of your personal talents to offer something new/different/better/or on a larger scale (whatever "it" may be). Entrepreneurs made this country great...and not all were technological innovations, some were just the amassing of resources in demand made available on a larger scale than had ever before been accomplished.

    You only have to sell one, one company, one good idea, and be set... is it worth it?

  • txjustin's picture

    ^^^Absolutely! I'd rather work 80+hours a week for myself than 80+ hours a week for someone else.

  • Adelbert_Buffington's picture

    Straight out of college, you have little or no marketable skills. You are not worth the money you get paid at a firm like the Big Four or BB. They say it takes a year and a half before the firm actually starts making a return on the investment it put into a) recruiting you, b) training you, c) investing in you in other ways, like intern conferences and counseling hours with seniors.

    So for fresh out of college kids who do not have an engineering or math background, the value add is in the long-term potential of becoming a cog of the firm.

    The current model works for a reason. As an analyst, you gain exposure to many industries and functions, and more importantly, you gain a level of professional maturity which can only be attained through daily interaction with senior management and clients. If you keep moving up, you get rewarded hansomely. If you switch firms, you also have more earning potential.

    Id rather have a 100% chance of knowing my career is going somewhere then spend my 20s on a dream project. Once you're in your thirties and start bringing in your own business, then it's worth being an entrepreneur or a self-employed consultant

    It is better to be vaguely right than exactly wrong - JMK

  • Californicated88's picture

    Hey guys,

    I just wanted to introduce myself and throw in my 2 cents here...

    It's very interesting that this topic popped up on WSO the day after my coworkers and I were having a discussion about the very same topic.

    A little about me...I just graduated from a target on the East Coast and took a banking offer in Silicon Valley fully planning on putting in my 2-3years, hit B-school, and then who knows, but I have to say that even being out in THIS area for less than a month seriously forces you to reevaluate your career aspirations along the lines of this debate.

    No matter WHAT a person's job is in the Valley, everyone here has entrepreneurial aspirations - even if they're in banking. People are working on start-ups on the side and/or making plans to work on start-ups in the near future. This place just has a very unusual energy that I have never encountered before. People actually act on all their ideas, no matter how daunting an undertaking they are.

    I know this post is rambling a bit, but I'm still sort of taking it all in and making sense of it myself. I would encourage any prospective monkeys to seek jobs on the West Coast if you are seriously toying with the entrepreneur idea. The environment is very encouraging (even if skewed by survivorship bias, etc.), especially is you're good at networking both with other entrepreneurs and VCs.

  • jgrisham's picture

    The best way to dip your toe in the entrepreneurship pool in my opinion, is to start implementing your idea part-time while working full-time at your job. That way, you can get a feel for what is involved in running an enterprise and if it is really your cup of tea. This also drastically reduces the risk involved (other than of course the risk to your health and sanity trying to do so many things at once), and you no longer have to fear going from a plum job to having to wait tables at restaurants if your venture fails (and you end up with 3-5 year gap on your resume). Of course this might be difficult with the 100 hr per week IB job, but it is quite doable in many other positions where you put in 40-50 hr weeks.

  • rc23's picture

    Life in general is a pretty irrational mess. I'm sure some of us learn that when we finally leave our parents' sheltered homes and discover life on our own. For example, being an entrepreneur isn't impossible, its actually very possible. I could become an entrepreneur tomorrow if I wanted. Although, I would be foolish to not take in consideration the possibility that I would have to put so much effort, blood, and sweat in the venture just to make make it work. Then again, how is that so different from all of us stressing four years of our lives during college, worrying about that gpa hoping that its the golden key to an happier life upon graduation?

  • Minute Man's picture

    Long time reader of this site (started in college about 4 years ago). Always some interesting conversations that are were very beneficial to me finding a finance job post college.

    I'm currently starting my own company on nights/weekends (we're pre-launch) and the experience has made me want to chime in on some things that I've learned along way. I'm not going to quote points above, but just going to take points made above and ramble a little about them.

    "the toughest thing to becoming an entrepreneur is finding a good idea"
    - This is not the toughest thing. That old saying 'ideas are a dime a dozen' is true. Everyone has good ideas. I guarantee you if you spent a couple weekends in a row sitting around with a buddy brainstorming, you could come up with a couple of viable business opportunities. It's all about working your 'think muscle.' This is different than being smart. It's something I think most people have, but like anything else, it takes time to develop a creative mind.

    "I'm waiting for the right time/ gain the right skills/ capital/whatever"
    - Ron Conway (probably the most successful/well known angel investor) gave a talk with some studies on who the most successful entrepreneurs are. I'm a little hazy on the exact info but this is the basic gist: It turned out, the ones who had the most billion dollar exits were the founders who started their companies at 25. You can have your own theories on this, but it makes sense for a couple of reasons. At that age you're willing to take larger risks with your company (less overhead in life terms), yuo've gained a decent amount of real world wisdom, etc.
    I'd say don't wait. Go start working on something. If you sit around and wait for that AHA! moment, you'll be less and less likely to every year to go out and actually try and start something. Your salary will go up, you'll get a serious gf/fiance/wife. You'll enjoy having a car in the city, or your nice apartment or whatever. All things that will make it much harder to leave every year.
    With that, I'd also say not to quit your current job. I think that whole entrepreneur mindset of "just do it!" isn't the best choice. Like some people highlighted above, most will fail. If yuo can suck it up and work two jobs, you will get the best of both worlds (though your social life will certainly suffer).

    How to start something? Attack a problem, the biggest problem you can find. My business model is so drastically different from when I first started working on it 7 months ago, to now. What I stayed with is to attack the problem. I've used the limited resources I have to figure out what parts of the problem I can feasibly attack first.

    Like I said, this is all from someone who's pre launch, but just my observations along the way.

  • LIBOR's picture

    I think its necessary to note that being an entrepreneur doesn't mean coming up with elaborate new idea. Most entrepreneurs wind up building businesses that are not very different then any other business. Whether you build websites, paint houses, design buildings, or make clothing, their isn't substantial differences between your business and others in the industry, besides your price points and some product/service differentiation. Most businesses are focusing on selling an existing product to a new market segment, or selling more of a product to the same segment. This excellent article by Scott Gerber (founder of the Young Entrepreneurs Council) reiterates this idea (Yes, its from HuffPo, no its not liberal BS).
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-gerber/scott-g...

  • In reply to txjustin
    econ's picture

    txjustin:
    A lot of you guys are looking at Entrepreurship all wrong, in my opinion. You are acting like if you don't invent the next Google, Apple. or .com and fail that's it. I have a different philosophy when it comes to entrepreneurship. I want several small streams of income versus one giant hit it big idea. I already have a few in the very early stages, but those are based off of my dads business. Basically, I want 5-10 businesses with decent revenue versus one with giant revenue. I guess it's a form of diversification. I'm not saying I woudln't want to get lucky with one of those ideas and hit it big.

    I forgot to add, most of the small businesses can be started on your free time with a fairly minimal startup cost.

    Great post! I couldn't agree more. No offense to anyone, but I think a lot of people just don't want to be an entrepreneur (for any number of legitimate reasons), so they start trying to justify that mindset with all sorts of weak arguments. Just my 2 cents...

  • baddebt88's picture

    It is incredibly difficult to go from student to entrepreneur. However, what is possible is to work at a start-up backed company. For entrepreneurship, the network is everything. No one expects you to be a domain expert but its important to have connections in the industry you are trying to crack, investors, and future employees. The last is ESPECIALLY overlooked. It takes damn good sales skills to convince a rockstar developer or biz dev guy to quit their cushy job and join your cause. Most people simply don't have the leadership skills.

    I dropped by the NYC talent fair for start ups today and there are plenty of roles for people who have experience on the finance side and tech side. Its a tough to find skillset which is very marketable in a lot of verticals (for example: finance tech startups, startups dealing with big data sets, biz dev roles).

    If your goal is to be involved in entrepreneurship in the future, take some time out to build your network. This can be done even when you hold a full time job. One of my personal goals is to become a specialized angel investor and help advise startups in certain verticals (big data set startups, BPO types) so you bet that I am not wasting time getting my rolodex developed. You shouldn't waste time either.

  • In reply to baddebt88
    econ's picture

    baddebt88:
    For entrepreneurship, the network is everything.

    That's debatable. Not all entrepreneurs start big companies that require a lot of capital. In Felix Dennis' "How To Get Rich" I don't think he even mentions networking.

  • baddebt88's picture

    Networking doesn't mean asskissing VCs and investors. Your network constitutes of potential customers, potential employees, potential partners, and potential advisers. Heck, even franchise and mom-pop stores need a network of possible employees. Say you have an idea for a tech company but don't code. Do you have a network of friends who have those skills that will join you? Say you want to supplement your income by being a freelance consultant. Do you have a network of possible customers? Where will you get your first customer or referral?

    Very few problems in your career (whether it be in finance or your own business) will be unique. By having a strong network you will be able to place the phone calls necessary to benefit from people's past experiences.

    I will reiterate, in entrepreneurship (hell in business), networking is everything. Loners don't make it big.

  • UBmonkey's picture

    I went from Banking->HF and now have a VC backed startup, soo i have some what an idea of the mindset here. The best advice i can give is, DO NOT GO INTO ENTREPRENEURSHIP FOR THE MONEY. I think many of us got into finance for the money, and im guilty of this too, but you cannot start a successful company if you are not passionate about the problem you are attempting to solve. I wake up everyday excited to go to work, i even get pissed when its a weekend and people arent in the office. I know im a bit crazy but when you start a company you live it, if you think banking or trading are stressful its a completely different ball game. Starting a business is a roller coaster and its not just financial its emotional and a social one, if you cant handle that stay away.

    I love what i do, but being in finance was way easier, and i mean no disrespect. You need to know everything about your market, customers, competition, and how to operate a business to be successful, ontop of that all these factors could change overnight (you could read TC in the AM and Google is now giving away your exact service for free). If you want to be pretty well off just stay in finance, maybe start a hedge fund if you're top 1%.

    Like others have said though there are many different types of entrepreneur. You can be a local business owner, a lifestyle business (sub 20mm in rev) or you can attempt to change the world.

  • Guest1655's picture

    fuck entrepreneurship. Finance is where it's at. The grass is not always greener.

  • alexpasch's picture

    Going from college straight to an entrepreneurial venture is not a good idea. Work for someone for at least a year. You'll learn a lot of valuable skills. And, if nothing else, you'll get a feel for what the next best alternative to entrepreneurship is (this is important motivation, trust me).

    Also, I find that most successful entrepreneurs have an idea that finds them, instead of them having to find an idea. I never sat on my ass and thought "oh I need an idea!". lol. What ends up happening is that you acquire a knowledge base and then realize a need within the marketplace that you can address profitably. If you try to force it you will fail because you won't have enough conviction to get you over the difficult times.

    The entrepreneurial lifestyle is the most bittersweet thing ever. In the early stages, you're all on this high, that's the easy part. The hard part is the middle, before you gain serious traction/viability but after the initial "pre-launch" or early stage high has worn off. That's what separates the men from the boys. All along the way there will be big decisions to make, which have lasting impacts on your life. It's stressful but rewarding.

    Being your own boss is the best thing ever, but the risks are also very great and not to be underestimated. It's also a really bipolar way to live; one day you think you're on your way to billions, the next you wonder how the hell you're supposed to pay your electric bill. It's definitely not for everybody. It's a lot tougher than you think.

    I agree with everything the OP said, but unless the OP knows very clearly what he wants to do as far as a new business, then what's the alternative?

    The decision is very personal. No one knows what the right answer is, but I do know one thing: many more people regret not being entrepreneurs than the other way around.

    And totally unrelated, but this is the best picture from a riot ever...
    http://www.cnbc.com/id/43425237

    Consultant to a Fortune 50 Company

  • In reply to UBmonkey
    alexpasch's picture

    UBmonkey:
    DO NOT GO INTO ENTREPRENEURSHIP FOR THE MONEY.

    Truer words were never spoken. Ask yourself this question before you quit to do your venture: if this business pays me $75K a year for the rest of my life, would I be happy with that?

    Consultant to a Fortune 50 Company

  • In reply to Guest1655
    Independent Gestion's picture

    Guest1655:
    fuck entrepreneurship. Finance is where it's at. The grass is not always greener.

    You know you can be a finance entrepreneur too? What else would you call ppl who start boutiques/PE funds/Hedge Funds/brokerages?

    "Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to become the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men. Blood, whips and guns or dollars."

  • In reply to Guest1655
    alexpasch's picture

    Guest1655:
    fuck entrepreneurship. Finance is where it's at. The grass is not always greener.

    What about entrepreneurs within finance? Best of both worlds or worst of both? lol

    Consultant to a Fortune 50 Company

  • OMS's picture

    You are still an entrepreneur, everything else still applies (network, marketing/sales, capital, credentials)

  • In reply to Independent Gestion
    Guest1655's picture

    Independent Gestion:
    Guest1655:
    fuck entrepreneurship. Finance is where it's at. The grass is not always greener.

    You know you can be a finance entrepreneur too? What else would you call ppl who start boutiques/PE funds/Hedge Funds/brokerages?

    You and Alex are right. i wasn't referring to finance entrepreneurs, but more so to the traditional startups/ biz owners.
    I'm just tired of all these people in finance saying they want to be entrepreneurs as if its the new cool thing to do. These are the same people who looked down on me a few years ago for not taking a job at a 'prestigious' company after school like they did. Now they are all about going to B-school and starting up some retarded web 2.0 social site.

    Those who really have the passion for it are the ones who started young, whether it was shoveling your neighbors horse shit in the spring or selling spiked fruit punch on a class trip. People dont realize how good they have it when they are making more money than 95% of their peers without having to worry about paying the bills around the office, heath insurance and benefits, fighting the competition, or closing due to new regulations.

  • In reply to Guest1655
    Independent Gestion's picture

    Guest1655:
    Independent Gestion:
    Guest1655:
    fuck entrepreneurship. Finance is where it's at. The grass is not always greener.

    You know you can be a finance entrepreneur too? What else would you call ppl who start boutiques/PE funds/Hedge Funds/brokerages?

    You and Alex are right. i wasn't referring to finance entrepreneurs, but more so to the traditional startups/ biz owners.
    I'm just tired of all these people in finance saying they want to be entrepreneurs as if its the new cool thing to do. These are the same people looked down on me a few years ago for not taking a job at a 'prestigious' company after school like they did.

    Those who really have the passion for it are the ones who started young, whether it was shoveling your neighbors horse shit in the spring or selling spiked fruit punch on a class trip. People dont realize how good they have it when they are making more money than 95% of their peers without having to worry about paying the bills around the office, heath insurance and benefits, fighting the competition, or closing due to new regulations.

    All I'm saying is it varies. I've done the start-up thing, done payroll, paid EI and CPP dues, struggled with receivables, rent and utility expenses for office space and it would all be worth it if it was the industry was my choice. But the ugly truth is 22 year olds really only have the clout, credibility and training to innovate in certain sectors (internet, marketing, nightlife, contracting [sometimes]). Alot of people are legitimately in finance to gain the experience and contacts (and b-school admits) necessary to pursue ventures in more "brick and mortar" markets such as engineering/construction/energy/finance/real estate. It's a necessary "evil", but I do agree with you... it's a pretty nice ride for a task; excellent compensation, perks, and minimal creativity required.

    "Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to become the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men. Blood, whips and guns or dollars."

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