THE BLOG

Taking the Plunge

22/09/2015 11:24 | Updated 21 September 2016

It was never going to be easy to leave my career to start a startup, but luckily McKinsey & Co, my then employer gave me a little push.

No, I wasn't fired, they had a graduate programme that encouraged you to explore different opportunities after two years. As I was planning to leave I knew this was my chance to start a startup. It was something I had always wanted to do, and always planned to do, but I also realised it was very easy to put it off. Would there ever be a time where I felt I had enough knowledge, connections or skill to build a startup? Simply, no. And I almost did put it off.

The time is now
Just as I was signing a contract to join Google, my best friend from McKinsey, Matt Clifford, called me. Would I join him to co-found Entrepreneur First? Immediately I said yes. I knew it would be something I would regret if I didn't. Since then I have never looked back. There are so many pluses to working in the startup community and although it can feel hard to consider leaving your corporate job, I promise you, that the benefits far outweigh any of the excuses that are preventing you from taking the plunge, I've tried to outline a few below.

Total football
If you are looking to expand your skillset, there is no better place to do so than a startup. When a team is so lean, it requires people who are willing to learn and eager to help out with projects and execute. You could find yourself working on marketing, product or on putting together investor decks- and you need to learn how to do these things, fast. It's what my co-founder Matt calls 'playing total football'. You are able to take on the role of another team player seamlessly.

Challenge yourself
In many ways starting up gets harder as you get older, and at EF, we find that the drive of young founders can be an asset. Work out what steps you can take to make founding a startup happen. And don't forget that this needs to be something you can see yourself working on for the next ten years at least. On average it might take a startup around that amount of time to IPO... if it is successful. Startups are a long term game and you need to be fully committed.

Mission led
When Matt and I started our company, we wanted to change the way that people considered their careers, particularly after our own experiences. If there is a problem that you are passionate about fixing, perhaps in the industry that you are currently working in, your domain expertise and knowledge of the sector give you unique insight into finding the right solution.

Don't wait
If you've ever wondered whether you should start a startup, now is the time for a fierce conversation with yourself. If you believe that at some point in your life you need to be a founder, now is the best time for that. You will never have enough knowledge, contacts or expertise to make you feel ready. The founder community is so open and friendly and there is a tonne of support on offer. Most people will wait until it's too late. Will you?

Alice was recently named as one of the fifty most inspiring women in the European technology sector by Inspiring Fifty. Inspiring Fifty is a pan-European programme that identifies, encourages, develops and showcases women in leadership positions within the technology community. The aim is to inspire a new generation of female leaders and entrepreneurs across Europe and indeed worldwide, leading the charge to affect meaningful and durable change.