My mother worries about me. She still doesn’t understand why I left a 6 figure job to build startups. That was over six years ago and I’m not homeless on the streets, but she worries nonetheless.
It’s understandable. She’s in her 70’s and comes from a generation that stayed with the same company for their entire career. Her career was spent as a nurse at Oakland’s Highland Hospital. She worked there for over 20 years before retiring. Then she worked as a home hospice nurse for over 10 years after that.
I try to explain that everything will be just fine. That I know what I’m doing. Finally I put it to her this way:
“When you were a nurse, as long as you had the skills to be a nurse, showed up every day and did the best job possible, there was little worry about loosing your job. Barring something catastrophically unexpected, like the Hospital burning down.”
“My job is the same way. As long as I know the business of building startups, it is just a matter of showing up everyday and doing the best job possible.”
In my six years of doing this job, I’ve found that to be true.
There are a couple of key assumptions. First is that you really know how to build startups. This is hard to learn. I learned by bringing in more experienced people to show me the ropes when building Distil. You can learn through mentors at incubators or accelerators (although they come with a cost). Or by joining a startup. Regardless of how you learn, do make sure you KNOW how to do the job.
The second is that you have some talent for the job. This is obviously more subjective. Unlike a corporate job, you won’t get annual performance reviews. As in anything in life, if you enjoy doing it AND can make a living from it, you probably have a talent for it.
So I hope my Mom worries less. After all, building startups is pretty much a job.