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Code Like A Girl

Why I didn’t quit my job to start my company

There’s a lot of talk about entrepreneurship and start-ups these days. Our parents dreamt of the gold watch at the 50-mark, but today we are set on Zuckerbergian dreams instead.

And to do that, common thought suggests, you must go all-in. You must become a ramen-eating, coffee shop-hopping full-time entrepreneur. That’s the only way you win, they say.

I didn’t do that.

I’ve kept my real job (that I love!) and have been running Bartaile as my passion and side-hustle for over 2 years. I’ve been alternating between pencil skirts and Converses, and putting as much time in board rooms as coffee shops. It hasn’t been easy to juggle, but it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And here’s why:

1 — Walk before you run

With any start-up, there’s a very steep learning curve. When Felicia (my business partner and one of my besties) and I started Bartaile, we didn’t know anything about product development, production or ecommerce. We had a LOT of learning to do. While having full-time jobs definitely slowed us down, they also gave us the safety net we needed to be able to make mistakes. I personally feel that our business wouldn’t be where it is today if we hadn’t made all those mistakes. Finding reliable suppliers, constantly tweaking the design, building a customer base — all these things take time. What’s more, if we had to take money out of the business to pay ourselves (for rent, to eat!) from day one, I think it would have been that much more stressful.

Taking the time to figure out our business model has been critical.

2 — Safety brings clarity

What do you do when you need to pay rent next week and you only have a few digits in your bank account? You panic, of course. You also make short-sighted decisions — like discount your product to move inventory.

Safety brings clarity. Our job security has allowed us to be more thoughtful and deliberate (read: slow) about how we build our business. It has worked for us, because we made decisions for the next ten moves, not for a check next week. It has given us the freedom to build the brand we want to build and to have the luxury of being able to scour all the options, rather than take the first one to pop up.

3 — More is more

For me, personally, the busier I am the happier I am. Of course, certain things have had to give — like lounging on the couch, or Sunday Fundays. I don’t even have time for any hobbies, but that’s a personal choice. I have found that working in two different industries (my job is in private equity investing, in case you’re wondering) with completely different characters and standards has made me more versatile and well-rounded. It makes me less myopic and gives me a fuller understanding of business and people. My world has become bigger, albeit busier, and I am better for it.

Ultimately, it’s a very personal decision and there is no one-size-fits-all model. But I hope this can start a new dialogue about the different shapes entrepreneurship can take.

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