There are lots of recommendations about when starting a business. Mostly, we are advised to start-up when times are good and we can afford to invest some time and money in building our own self-employed careers. Since I’ve discussed that several times over the last weeks, and, as so often, my view does not fit into the prevailing view, here are my 2 cents: The best time to start with something new always is now!
Most people aren’t self-employed, and most people have never asked themselves whether to start something on their own. Why should they? There is no rule that says “self-employment is the holy grail”. Of course, we know that self-employment can have positive effects on our health, e.g. the likelihood of hospital admissions of self-employed individuals is about half that of wage workers. This finding holds true even when accounting for a potential self-selection of the healthy into self-employment. However, we don’t know whether self-employed — who often simply cannot afford to become ill — are less sensitive towards their (potential) illnesses.
Of my friends and business network, I couldn’t tell whether, in principle, it’s healthier to be paid on a monthly basis or generating sufficient revenues for a withdrawal from the business account. I, myself, have never been employed by somebody else, except as a working student, so I can’t compare. What I do know however, is, that there are some of my friends who aren’t really satisfied with their jobs and like to discuss the start-up and venture capital topic at dinner parties. They then declare to be ready to quit their jobs as soon as the right time has come. Ok, only when is the right time? Answers like “as soon as I have the right idea”, “after I have reached the next step on my career ladder” — or even better — “when the right point of time has come” are given. Sorry guys, not one of you will start her own company. This is nothing else as prevaricating.
As so often in life, you typically know when the right time for something has come, be it to move to another city, to leave your partner, to have kids, or to quit your job and start your own company. These significant moves in life usually are triggered by a real need — in my case, it was my father’s role model, who, earning a decent income as a self-employed steel trader, returned home at 5 pm, went on holidays when it made sense or played tennis with us kids when the weather — and not a boss — allowed it. I felt the need to live autonomously and to decide about essential aspects of my life — and my first company, an online travel agency, followed suit.
Of course, you should have some idea you plan to build your company on. And, of course there should be some visibility regarding market potential, product acceptance, and future revenues, before you start-up. It may be wise to gain some experience working for a large enterprise or a consultancy in order to build your network and not being forced to start from 0. However, if you feel being ready for a change, go for it — start your own business — the best time for that is right now!
There is one alternative I’d like to point out: if you join a company that allows you to act as if you were self-employed, that encourages you to create and pursue your vision of the business, go for that option! With Datarella, we have tried to create such a company — I’d describe our business as a creative venture at the high-end side of technology combined with sufficient business clout guaranteeing that the show goes on. Obviously, joining a company like Datarella could be a valid alternative to start-up!