Back in 2015, I had a chance to do something really awesome at work. The company I work for was asking for new business ideas. If your team’s idea was picked, then you would be able to participate in an Innovators Program. The program consisted of three internal company teams and 4 external startups. Teams were assigned mentors and were given twelve weeks to work on their business idea. At the end of the program, teams would pitch to a panel of Innovation Coaches and Investors. The team I was on was chosen to enter the program. Basically, the way it worked was we met in a classroom environment once a week. We worked on our pitch deck and presented what we had at that point in the process. We also worked on lean startup concepts to hoan our ideas. When we were not in the classroom, we were usually in a conference room writing scripts so we could interview people about our idea. Everything was about validating our idea and proving that it was solving a problem and that people thought of the business idea as a solution to that problem. We ended up pivoting twice before we landed on really solving a problem. I learned so much about starting a new business and how to minimize risks of failure.
The reason I told you that story was, well first off: How cool was that? I got paid for 12 weeks to work on a side business idea! The other reason I wanted to share the story was that during the interviewing process, I talked to a LOT of millennials and GenX-ers about what they wanted out of life and their careers. I learned that those two groups were quite different from me. The answers to the questions I asked were kind of shocking at the time, but I heard a lot of the same wants and desires from many of the people I talked to. People 18-34 were clear that they were not fulfilled at work. Many of them didn’t want to be working in a cube. I was asked questions by them about why they couldn’t work from a Starbucks, or why couldn’t they run errands during the day. They spoke about wanting to leave their current job because they didn’t feel like they were making a difference and that was important to them. I never remember talking like that when I was that age, but it makes sense to me that growing up in a connected world where the internet removes physical boundaries for friends and fellow gamers. I never realized that kind of environment could affect how someone is fulfilled, but I think it definitely has an effect.
So how can you get that fulfillment and feel like you are making a difference? To be honest, I have a couple answers (and I’m sure there are many more). One answer is to get a job in I.T. Technical jobs tend to be more receptive to working from anywhere. I currently work from home one or two times a week. When you work remotely, you have more time for a work life balance. For one, you eliminate the time it takes to go to and from work. That’s more time for you to spend running those errands. You also don’t tend to be micro managed as your boss is not in the same physical space you are. Some jobs are 100% remote. Now you really can work from a Starbucks. You can move anywhere in the world if you really wanted to. I think this can get you out of the cube and help keep you whole.
According to Forbes magazine (https://www.forbes.com/sites/85broads/2013/11/18/the-millennial-startup-revolution/#500ad3a0622d), one in five millennials plan to quit their day job and start their own business. I don’t agree with all the reasons for it in their article, but starting your own business has all of the risks and rewards one could dream of. In future blog articles, I’ll talk about how to create a startup and move it forward. I’ll share many of the things I learned in the Innovators Program. For now, it’s safe to say that if you are the owner of your own business, there would be only your rules. No cubes, no asking to work remotely. Your successes are made with your own efforts. Nothing is more fulfilling than making others’ lives better and having happy customers from your business. We are taught to go to school and then get a 40+ hour a week job at a stable company. I say forget that! Come up with the next great idea. Solve a problem. What is stopping you from starting your own business? I’d love to hear what’s blocking you. Maybe I can help.