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New Opportunity

June 19, 2008

I met up with a coworker, who we will call Kevin, from my former job this week.

“So what are you in town for? Vacation?”
“No… Sort of for work.”

I looked at his outfit (casual) and unshaven face, perplexed. My old company does have customers here, but I didn’t think he’d be here by himself. Certainly not by himself and without a razor! Apparently, since we’d last talked (January) he had quit his job at our old company, went to Europe for two weeks, traveled around the US a little, moved to the SF Bay area, and is in the process of founding his own start-up. Wow!

He semi-offered me a job, though he seems to be in the very early stages of the start-up. Some capital but probably not enough. A few people, but maybe not enough (he seemed to many good contacts, but few commitments). I couldn’t tell for certain if he was offering to hire me because we were meeting for a friendly lunch, of if he was offering it because he really wanted to invite me to be a part of it. I suppose you don’t just invite anyone if you don’t mean it. It sounds like he had a list of people he wanted to recruit, and I think I was on it, but maybe not in the top “must-have” section.

It is worth noting that Kevin is someone I really admire, both in business and as a person. He’s smart, he’s got a good “get things done” sort of attitude, and he works hard. He wasn’t my manager, but my manager basically pawned me off onto him, and a lot of my assignments were directed by Kevin. His idea is good, but the whole prospect frightens me. Higher risk, higher returns (or no returns…) He has the entrepreneurial spirit that I just don’t seem to posses, and it’s inspiring.

The whole thing sounds a little crazy, especially to someone like me. (If you can’t tell, I like security and stability.) Of course, I couldn’t quit my full-time corporate stint (could I?), but with all the layoffs around here, it is nice to have someone desiring my skills. He mentioned part-time, especially in this initial phase. Now that is something I may be able to get on board with. I could make some extra cash this summer and work on something interesting and rewarding. I don’t mean to get ahead of myself (only had a one hour conversation about it!), but it is an option worth considering. This would be a new step for me, both in personal finance and personal growth.

My initial thoughts:

  • How many hours? Do I really want to make this kind of commitment? Start ups are intense (or so I hear) but fun.
  • How much money, and how to go about negotiating? Start-ups really seem to be a different breed, one I’m not very familiar with.
  • The ideas: I’m supposed to listen to a 1.5 hour webex pitch next week, and I’ll get a firm picture of what Kevin is proposing, his various ideas, what I think the viability of them is, how inspiring they are, and where I might fit in.
  • The people: Who else is involved that I know (at least one from my last job), who is involved that I don’t know? How many people?

I am not going to go further than that with my analysis yet. A high percentage of start-ups fail (over 80%, maybe), and this is a very green idea and his first start-up attempt. A real analysis of how much capital is involved and the business plan would be in order if it was a choice of whether or not to quit and chase him. My exposure to that risk is lowered if I am doing this part time. Part time is still a huge time commitment though, and I wouldn’t want to get involved if I would disappoint someone I really respect. That would be the biggest risk at this point.

But the potential rewards? The (statistically) most likely scenario is that the business fails after some period of time, and I walk away with some amount of cash for my part time work, and life goes on. Another option is that the company is successful and I can be a gazillionaire due to stock options. Hehe, ok, probably not. Seriously though, another option is that the company is viable and I can work for someone I respect on something I enjoy, away from the reins of the big corporate companies. [Disclaimer: I like my company, and I respect my manager. The idea of working for Kevin just sounds nicer than my cubicle, but less practical.]

If anyone has done a lot of freelancing, consulting or worked at a start-up, please chime in with your experiences and thoughts!

P.S. – Sale on summer clothes at Banana Republic… I think I’m going to resist, though I have a $25 card so we’ll see.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2008 10:33 am

    Geez…you had to throw in that bit about Banana Republic?! lol. Now that you mention it, my work pants ARE starting to get too big…

    About your new opportunity: it sounds exciting, and I’m not sure exactly what you do, but before you start working part time for another company make sure that your current one doesn’t have any rules against that. It’d be a bummer to get excited about it, just to find out that you can either work for one or the other.

    I know what you mean about security/stability… I really enjoy and appreciate my weekly paycheck, and it’d have to be something I was VERY passionate about for me to give up that security. I’m not built for risk taking, lol.

  2. June 19, 2008 10:45 am

    @QL – BR sends me emails! hahaha. Good point, I’d have to check my company regulations. The side business wouldn’t be (at all) in competition with my business, but you just never know.

  3. June 19, 2008 1:02 pm

    The start-up sounds exciting! I have no advice, but good luck with all your options!

    As for the Banana sale, watch those prices! They do have some good deals in this sale, but some of the online “sale” prices are actually higher now than they were last night. :/

  4. June 19, 2008 2:38 pm

    Hmmm, I’m going to pretend I didn’t see that about the BR sale.

    P’raps you should have offered him a razor. 😉
    Seriously, though, that sound really interesting. I look forward to hearing about the presentation.

  5. stackingpennies permalink*
    June 19, 2008 2:39 pm

    @lucy – maybe, but the old sale stuff was pretty picked over as of a few days ago. How sad is that I know that? 🙂

    I’ve been checking often since i have a gift card

  6. June 20, 2008 7:53 am

    A job at a start up would probably be pretty risky, but if you can do it part-time, that’s ideal. You won’t be giving up the security of your full-time job, and if it fails, you wasted some time and that’s about it.

    Working full-time and part-time might take time away from school, though, unless your time management skills are really good. (Mine are not, which is why I throw that out there!)

  7. SJean permalink*
    June 20, 2008 8:01 am

    @paranoidasteroid – I probably couldn’t do it once school starts. I have pretty good time managment, but full time + part time + school sounds daunting!

    I’m not in school until mid/late September.


  1. Should I take on part-time work on the side? « Stacking Pennies

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