At a nice age of 36, I took a leap of faith and joined a startup after holding management roles in the financial sector after 15 years.
That decision didn’t come easy but it was made easy. It was not a decision which people around me could understand least accept.
Some told me, think carefully before you make this move, it’s too late.
I asked them: Too late for what?
Often, many people subconsciously stamp an age to startups and entrepreneurship and self employment. It’s almost like there is a maximum entry age for one to move into an idea they are really passionate about.
Traditionally, there are three ways to become an entrepreneur.
The first way is to be born for it — people in the likes of Henry Ford. Secondly is when you’re forced into it. Like some friend of mine who started his own digital marketing business, after a “golden handshake” at age 39 (Yes, 39).Third is when you fall into it and don’t know how you got into it. That’s like a 50 year old ex client of mine who had been in corporate careers in the shipping industry his whole life but naturally had such great understanding of financial instruments. At one point, when given a choice to take on being a regional chief in Vietnam, he went into insurance sales after attending a seminar and has never regretted since then.
Half the population will say my 2 acquaintances failed (in some way), the other half otherwise. Regardless, they reiterates my personal belief that whether it is failing or succeeding, there is no such thing as too late.
Coming into a startup environment is mind blowing. I think the beauty lies in 2 M: Momentum and Mindset.
A lean environment allows for ideas to flow freely and quickly. Good ideas are picked up quick and worked on fast while those which requires more deliberation will be put off — for now.
A key aspect of startup success has got to be speed. Large and established companies change course slowly like a massive beast. Our difference lies in us being able to move quickly, iterating on product designs, testing new ideas, and adapting to changing circumstances. You’ve got to be able to deliver fast. Ideas grow fast and “stronger” when it is thrown and put to test by different members in the team. If my whole life I had been efficient, I had picked up being effective in this environment too.
Put it simply, working smart has to be a foundation for everyone.
I adore the mindset of the team. Curiosity is something that I see many possess. Refusing to maintain status quo and constantly challenging the status quo with attempts to shake things up. Stability and long term planning were once the mark of the sound strategy, here I learnt that adaptability is the new competitive advantage.
Most importantly, growth mindset foster happiness. Ultimately, having happy team members is a culture everyone wish to foster!
Twenty years from now, all of us will be more disappointed by things we did not do than the outcome of it. So as to whether it is too late, be it to succeed or to fail, I still say — does it matter? Or could what really matter best is whether we even took the first step.