I’ve noticed that there isn’t a strong correlation between college education—the school you went to and the grades you earned—and career performance at Software Advice. After eight years of management experience, I’m less and less interested in that section of the resume.
Why are we so prone to impulsive decision-making? What is it that makes us believe this offer is the next best thing? In this post, I attempt to answer these questions and provide some career guidance for the at-risk job-hopper.
Here at Software Advice, we do things ourselves. We don’t bring in consultants or outsource functions. We rarely use external recruiters. We do our payroll in-house. We don’t often buy commercial software; we write our own. And this attitude extends to hiring: in general, we like to hire people who come from principal backgrounds rather than agency backgrounds.
Too often, experience is measured purely in terms of time—which is simplistic. Saying that you have “20 years of experience” in a given role doesn’t speak to the kind of company you worked for, the number of hours you put in each week or the types of people you were exposed to. Maybe you showed up each day for 20 years, but how hard did you actually work?
Most of us want to be a “connector”; that is, someone who knows good people and brings them together. Certainly, there are many times when that’s a good thing to do, both socially and professionally. However, I’ve also encountered a lot of “party crashers”: those who introduce me to people unexpectedly.
When we first started our company, Software Advice, I knew nothing about starting or building a company. But Don had a big library of business books. If I couldn’t hike or ski, I didn’t have much else to do on weekends in Montana. So I started reading.
While conventional wisdom says to network aggressively, I don’t necessarily agree. There will most likely be periods during which networking is not your highest-value activity. Every hour has an opportunity cost, and early in the life of your business, you don’t have a lot of hours to burn.
So if you give up on being a bootstrapped entrepreneur, what are your options? They will depend on whether or not you have “burned the ships.” Hailing back to Cortes’ conquest of the Aztec empire, this phrase refers to when soldiers of a vanquishing army would sail to a foreign land, and burn the ships behind them so they couldn’t retreat from battle.
Today’s employees, especially Gen Y, are increasingly focused on finding a greater purpose in their work. Unlike prior generations who were focused simply on being employed or growing their income, this generation wants something more meaningful. But what if your business is primarily commercial and not, well, saving the world?
Interestingly, one of the most reliable ways to be successful is to be, well, boring. Boring industries are home to some very successful companies, and they are typically not home to fierce competitors like Jobs, Page or Zuckerberg. Of course, the entrepreneurial path you choose will depend upon your ambitions. So if you’re thinking of starting a business, start by asking yourself: What kind of entrepreneur do I want to be?