SXSW Interactive 2009: Notes for Quitting Your Perfectly Good Job

A friend passed along these notes from the panel discussion on quitting your perfectly good job to do your own thing. Some useful tips and takeaways in there.

  • Bryan Mason
    • Left Adaptive Path in August
    • Put on full day conference on quitting your job
    • Worked for Twitter for a while, when their payment check cleared, he went to work on his own stuff.
  • Ryan Freitas
    • Worked for Adaptive Path
    • Quit and went to work for Plinkey
    • Quit and started his own company
  • Chris Sacca
    • Worked for Google, head of special projects initiative
    • Quit and went to work for lowercase capital
  • Laura Mayes
    • PR
    • Two years ago founded Kirsty (digg for chicks)
  • Unemployment at 10% in california, 8% in NY
  • Things to do to quit
    • You have to resign - you have to write a letter, and sign it.
      • Otherwise, you can't do stuff like cobra.
    • Get copies of all your agreements
      • Invention Assignment (your company owns everything you did)
      • No Poach
      • Non-compete
      • Confidentiality
      • Equity Agreements
    • Finishing Strong
      • People only remember the last few things you did. So for good references, make sure you are doing well before you leave.
      • Leave on a good note, good vibes. They may be giving you business later, you may need the relationships later.
    • Define your own happiness. Don't let other people define it with their expectations of you. For Chris Sacca, everyone else thought he had the best job in America. And he listened to them, and let their expectations cause him to stay in a job he didn't like.
    • Setting a price: you need to define what you need. Is it a year's salary? Do you have a backup plan? Do you have a backup for your backup for your backup?
  • Do you own your own ideas? Code? Design?
    • If you did it on your own equipment, own email, own time, you should be OK. (This is not legal advice.)
  • What is your definition of success? What do you want to achieve?
  • Do you need a full business plan or do I just jump in?
    • Sometimes people do a full business plan, and it all goes out the window as soon as they launch.
    • Sometimes people get to a year, and it's not really going anywhere, and then it is time to reevaluation where you get to.
  • People spend little time on thinking about vision up front and too much time on thinking about tactics.
  • People talk, talk, talk, and they need to just do, do, do. There is such a cost of inaction. Don't write a document, just write the code. You can have an idea on Friday, and build a prototype over the weekend.
  • Lowering your personal burn as low as possible. It gives you more choices. "The best thing I ever did was move from a house to a loft. In a loft all your shit is visible, and you think oh shit, how did I get all this shit." sell your car, don't buy shit, and you will have more choices. You need to plan more when you are financially constrained and don't have as many choices.
  • Sometimes main job and side job are complementary, and sometimes totally separate, and both have pros and cons. Neither one is always better.
  • You need to have play time. If you are working at home, maybe you make the difference by changing your clothes.
  • "Your inbox is a todo list in which anyone else can add an item and steal your time" --> stop living out of your inbox, and live out of your todo list.
  • Starting With Others
    • Write everything down
    • Plan for a) Failure, b) Success, c)Mediocrity
    • Have a clear exit plan if one o fyou wants to leave
    • Find a lawyer, a CPA, an advisor (who knows stuff you don't), and a bank. (Chris Sacca says put all this out of your mind. Good products get built when you can focus on a good product. Figure this out later.)
      • If you are looking for a small amount of capital, the people you talk to, whose interests will probably closely align with your own, will happily introduce you to their network of providers.
  • If you need money, ask for advice. If you need advice, ask for money. If you need a job, ask for coffee.
  • When do you need some kind of entity…
    • Having a company adds legitimacy. Instead of being judged based on one individual and their resume, it is taking more seriously.
    • But you can just do a doing business as (DBA), you don't need to form a corporation…if it is just one person. But can have value when there are multiple people.


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