Did Corporate America Make Me a Better Founder?

A college student interested in entrepreneurship wanted advice on how to best position himself to found a start-up. He asked about my journey and if corporate America helped position me for success. Here are a few things I shared with him:

  • Corporate America – The experience was good. It gave me some credibility. It showed me how a well-run company operates at massive scale. I left with company experience at an enterprise level. My goal was to build my company to the scale of the companies I’d seen in corporate America. The strategies they used worked for them, so I used many of them at my start-up. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that it takes time to get to that level. Things that work at an enterprise level aren’t what got them to that level.
  • Start-ups – Corporate America didn’t prepare me for start-up life. I had no idea what I was signing up for. I had a massive gap in my brain where it would have been helpful for start-up knowledge to be. It took me years of learning by doing and talking to people to understand start-up life. I learned to move quickly and break things. Done is better than perfect. And a host of other things.
  • Passion – Find a problem you’re passionate about solving. Your passion is what will carry you through the bad days (plenty of those in your future) and motivate you to take the leap (and the next leap, and the one after that). All the preparation in the world is worthless if you’re not trying to solve a problem you’re passionate about.

I went on my journey by making the best decision I could with the information and resources I had at the time . . . and doing it again the next day . . . and the next. It wasn’t perfect or pretty, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I learned so much about entrepreneurship, myself, and life on the journey that was amazing. Everyone’s journey is different and that’s the beauty of it. There’s no right or wrong approach. Only the one that works for you.