October 18, 2020

How do you explain to others why you quit your job to be an entrepreneur?

YuanHao Chiang @YuanHao

Yesterday, I met a few friends whom I haven't been in contact for some time and they were shocked I left my job as a well-payed, yet overworked Engineering Manager, to become a solopreneur.

Some people even mentioned that "it's okay to get fired in times of Covid", when in fact the company was in the e-learning sector, which made the business bloom but created an environment where we were constantly getting too much work on our plates.

I love what I am doing now, which includes reading a lot of programming and other books in general, greatly increasing my career capital, but I can't find the right words to explain why this is a good move for me and my sanity.

I just started on my own a few months back and it's going to be some time before any kind of revenue comes in.

If anyone has tips on what arguments to give or has been in a similar situation, advice is welcome :)

  1. 5

    try not to spend energy on that is my thinking, get out of that conversation if you can
    the thing is the gap is thinking, knowledge, core assumptions, risk taking and a long list of other thing is huge, and is not going to be narrowed enough even in an 8 hour long conversation at least in the context of a generic person that only ever considered being and Employee.
    basically if the other person has not read a book like rich dad poor dad or 4 hour work week or anything of that nature the conversation is just too complicated

    You can see something like that if you look for example in Vegan groups, when people that aren't supportive try to clash their ideas with it, it's just not a short easy conversation.
    Or like trying to argue politics to the other side.

    :shrug: maybe it's not good advice, but your energy is more important than to try to justify yourself in my mind

    1. 2

      This is actually great advice, I just thought about it and there are just too many factors to explain and indeed even in a few hours of talking, people around me either immediately approved and felt identified, or simply wouldn't bite.

      I'm trying to make a mental list of people who are enjoyable to talk to, and those who are not. Those who are not, it's better I avoid hard conversations with them while I work on my ace project and they are nearer to completion.


      1. 1

        Your project progress and even crazy success might not change the conversation with these people either

  2. 3

    You don't explain. You just tell them what you did and if they have a problem with that then it's their problem.

    You don't need to explain or justify anything to anyone.

  3. 1

    Why should you try and explain anything to anyone?
    I think that if you do, you open a door to many ugly things that might discourage you in a way or another.

    I think that if you do not owe anything to anyone, you are just responsable for your own actions.

    People will understand only what they can understand based on their own experience, so no matter what your arguments are, those who will not understand why you do it, they will not understand in 1000000 years.

    As a huge brand would say: "Just do it".

  4. 1

    Don't. Nobody will 100% understand how it is to be in your shoes. Be you.

  5. 1

    Once I get to this point, I would probably just reply “Because I am happier this way”.

    that word, “happier”, for me would cover meaning, purpose, challenging, flow, freedom, healthy, etc

  6. 1

    When I quit my job at SAP, most of my colleagues and friends understood. I loved my company and the people I worked with but I wanted a challenge where I could make a big contribution. I did recognize that it's a privilege that many people may not have. Often, you have dependents and starting something new is always risky.

    However, becoming a solopreneur is also rewarding. It's likely that you will fail a lot but you will also learn things much more quickly than you would as part of a company. Also, the skills you require will always be useful. If things workout, you will be independent and you don't have to depend on anyone for your income. If things don't workout, you have acquired skills which will make you a great fit for another job.

    My only advice is to find a community (which you already did with indiehacker) because it can get lonely. Good-luck! :)

  7. 1

    I was working for IBM & IBM offered me an H1B visa(even got through the process) to travel & work in the USA. But I wanted to start my Startup. So I quit without taking the formal offer. All my colleagues thought I have taken a shitty decision!

    Few things I learned regarding the topic "explain to others why you quit your job":

    1. It's a complete waste of energy to explain to others why you quit because others are busy with their priorities. Better make them understand by your results.
    2. Helps you build a thick skin when you don't explain. Which is a much-needed characteristic when you start a startup!
  8. 1

    Yes! Me, I did it when COVID hit in March. I ended my work with Microsoft to build a productized service ( brain optimization for founders) which I feel more purpose, meaning, impact. Yeah I did forgo cushy payment during chaos. Here are 2 tips:

    1. talk about the burning challenge/ the problem, help them see & feel the problem that you chose to solve & why it’s a big deal that it should be solved (ultimately by you)

    2. connect with them on the topic of a time when they didn’t find meaning or purpose in their job & how it made them feel... then share your story of how you also didn’t feel it brought you to this point to solve a challenge that you find more meaningful & purpose

    Essentially it’s important to build a background story where it can connect with your friends at a “feeling” level and then lead the conversation to how these feelings led you to this decision

  9. 1

    I've spent most of my adult life in jobs that are way outside the norms of society. When you have a career that is "outside the norm" you get 3 possible reactions: intriquge, indifference, and fear.

    The first two are obvious and easy to deal with, let's unpack the third. Their fear can manifest itself in many different ways -- contempt, pity, suspicion, and even anger. No matter how it manifests, it always because you are living a truth that they are trying to avoid. The truth that there is another way. That you don't have to follow the path "society" paves for you.

    Picture yourself back in your engineering manager position, things start getting tough and at some point this tiny little voice in your head says "dude just quit". "No, no, I just can't quit", you say back, "That's not practical. I have bills to pay. I have friends and colllegeues that respect me. A nice home. etc". Nice comforting lies to yourself. That small little voice in your head is the nugget of truth and you smash it with a hammer. The real reason? You'll have to drop a rung in the status ladder in exchange for freedom. Only one single rung. But most people won't do that. Instead, you double down on everything. Work harder to get promoted to a higher position with more "freedom". Get a nicer home, a two car garage would be practical (you just upgraded the cars, because of the new safety features of course, you're not one of the BMW driving status chasers). Get nicer furnishing for your home, nothing crazy (you're practical of course) but maybe just a comfier couch and a cool coffee table your saw online a few days ago. But you still wear t-shirt and jeans because you don't care about status. What a sweet comforting lie.

    I'm not saying that entrepreneurs are above status, as a matter of fact for most entrepreneurs the status game is even more important. They are just willing to temporarily take the status hit because they believe that entrepreneurship will eventually catapault them into an even higher status rung.

    Now, imagine the current solopreneur you running into this "doppelganger you". You are the living embodyment of the little voice in their head they thought they squashed. You don't have to do anything but exist in front of them and they apply a "should" label to you. We all do it. Without speaking a word, you are telling them they should follow your path. But it's not really you telling them this, you are only a reflection of the little voice in their head. It's not surprising they act from a position of fear. What is surprising is how civil most people are! Think about it, they're coming face to face with the truth that they've wasted their entire life (and will more than likely waste the rest of it) and the typical reaction is "oh wow, that's pretty risky. Well, you left on good terms so you can probably go back to your job if you need to." Absolutely amazing that there aren't thousands of murder/sucides every day.

    Which brings us to your question, how should you handle them? To be honest, it doesn't really matter. There is no way that you should handle them. Do whatever you want.

    Just one last note, in the same way that you are a physical reflection of the litte voice in this persons head, they are also the physical reflection of the little voice in your head. The one that's reminding you of everything you gave up. The reason you created this post.

  10. 1

    I don't justify my choices to other people who aren't affected by my choices. Makes everything easier and keeps me happier!

  11. 1

    I usually say "I didn't agree with the direction of the company." It sounds like you can say "company culture" and be done with it. If anyone asks for more, I think it's totally fine to say you wanted to learn more and have the time to do that.

    Your lifestyle and how the company culture impacts your lifestyle matters.

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