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From corporate to start-up: can you cut it?

entrepreneur young at PCThis article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 7-Feb-2013 issue

Four years out of our MBA degrees, my MBA classmate Joanne* was working in a senior position at a leading global FMCG company. She was extremely well-paid, got to travel extensively and had all the usual corporate perks. Everyone thought she had the perfect set-up. But inside, Joanne was desperately unhappy. Her dream was to start her own business, and she would spend all her spare time researching an idea she was passionate about. However, she had two children whose private education didn’t come cheap, a sizeable homeloan to pay off, and her husband’s investment business had taken a knock in the global financial crisis. So the family depended on Joanne’s salary. As much as she wanted to quit her job in corporate, she didn’t think she could. Sensing her unhappiness, Joanne and I met for lunch to explore if there was a way she could successfully make the leap from corporate to a start-up. Some valuable lessons came out of our discussion that hopefully can help others in the same predicament.

I made the transition in 2007 and it was the best career decision I have ever taken. The entrepreneurial environment, however, isn’t for everyone. And corporate will be extremely tempting when you hit the inevitable rocky period in your venture. Before making the leap from corporate to start-up, you need to understand what you’re getting into and if you’re cut out for it.

So the first question to address is: What traits do you need to have in order to succeed in a start-up? Continue reading

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