How to go from cushy corporate job to the start-up life

January 20, 2012

Since quitting my cushy corporate job and co-founding MentorMob.com, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to — and how not to — turn an idea into a successful business. Whenever a simple new idea emerges, it usually snowballs into something that requires an engineering team the size of Google’s.  This happened to us when we first started MentorMob and what we had to realize were two things.  

First, we had very little resources to make anything happen — just two guys and a couple computers.  Secondly, we didn’t even know if our core product was valid so there wasn’t any point in wasting time building a product with all the bells and whistles.  Focus on the core product and build out from there when you start seeing traction.
You’ve heard the adage ideas are cheap.  There’s some truth to it.  Just because you have a great idea doesn’t mean there isn’t someone else who hasn’t thought of it already.  

What counts is the execution and it’s the team that you build to execute on that idea that will make or break your company.  I would rather hire someone who is an above average developer and likes to network with others than someone who is a rock star developer who doesn’t talk to anyone.  We’ve focused greatly on choosing the right people to work with us — people who are innovative, work well in our culture, and truly believe in the idea behind MentorMob.  Build a great team in a great culture and everyone will execute your idea to success.
We’re all going to make mistakes as entrepreneurs.  It’s a certainty just like death and taxes, but what’s going to separate the folks who go on to growing a company that lasts 100 years from the one that closes its doors within six months is one that fails fast and evolves.  The faster you try something new, fail, and pivot, the less time and money you waste going down the wrong path.  The better you evolve your company in an ever-changing environment the more of an advantage you have against competitors.
There isn’t a formula for being successful, and remember that success can be measured in many different ways — revenue and profit, number of employees, social impact to the world and even your happiness.  

Success is personal, so be sure to stop and think about what’s important to you and always remember why you’ve started your business.

Vince Leung is co-founder of Chicago-based MentorMob, a free platform that allows anyone to organize the best educational content from the Web into easy to follow learning playlists..

 

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