It feels great thinking you’re an entrepreneur. Let’s be honest though – how close are your side-hustle earnings to those of your full-time corporate career? Does this mean you’re a wantrepreneur?
(Voluntarily) leaving a well-paid corporate career is difficult, yet it remains a constant thought to many. Pros versus cons, money, security, and sometimes even asking why anyone in their right minds would do this.
Recently, I listened to Noah Kagan’s latest podcast, in which he interviews Daniel Schreiber – CEO and Founder of Lemonade, an online insurance company. But before I get into that, it’s worth introducing Noah Kagan. Prior to founding AppSumo, Noah held positions at Intel, Facebook, and Mint. Those are pretty big names and I think that many people would aspire to list these as employers on their resumes. That’s all history. Now Noah helps people start and market their own businesses. The podcast and transcript are available here http://okdork.com/business-lessons-lemonade-insurance/
Looking at both Noah’s background and the recent podcast, it is a lot more obvious that people can, and do, leave their corporate careers. Let’s take a look at some of the nuggets that I took away from the podcast.
Entrepreneurs manage risk. Daniel managed risk, rather than avoiding it. To avoid risk, would have meant that Lemonade became just another reseller or affiliate for the real insurance companies. Becoming an insurance carrier (against the advice the founders received), allowed the startup to truly disrupt the hundred-year-old insurance industry. In addition to this, and if all else failed, Daniel had a law degree to fall back on.
Not sticking with convention can work for you. Convention has it that any technology startup should create a minimal viable product (MVP) and then launch this to customers. Daniel and his co-founder disagreed with this approach and realised that in order to add value to customers, an all or nothing approach was required. They went all in. Being new to the insurance industry, they were advised not to become an insurance carrier. They understood that placing a technology veneer on top of a century-old industry was not bringing about any real change. To bring change meant that Lemonade needed to become an insurance carrier. In summary, they managed to create real value by doing the hard things.
Commitment. We’ve spoken about risk and not sticking to convention and in a way, these two things culminate in commitment. Daniel talks about going all in. Rather than “dipping a toe in the water”, Daniel and his co-founder committed to building something that would add value to customers. Daniel highlights a few decisions they took as “moves that they bet the company on”. He goes on to say that he thinks they were lucky to succeed. I think that they put the necessary building blocks in place to help ensure this success. As Gary Player famously said, “The more I practice, the luckier I get”.
Finding your niche. The Lemonade example demonstrates how important finding your niche is. Who would have thought there was room for another insurance player? Secondly, the examples that Daniel provide show that it is possible to carve a niche. When Apple launched the iPod, other companies must have thought that it was game over. Not Sandisk. Sandisk managed to identify a market segment (in the same market) where they could flourish alongside Apple.
Finally, both Daniel and Noah show that having a successful corporate job doesn’t mean the end of you. In many instances, it can be just the start.
Check out the podcast and transcript here http://okdork.com/business-lessons-lemonade-insurance/