If you’ve ever thought about quitting your full-time job to pursue a new business venture, add Oxygen’s new docu-series Quit Your Day Job to your TV lineup. Quit Your Day Job, premiering Wednesday, March 30, at 10 p.m. ET/PT, is an eight-episode series featuring aspiring millennial entrepreneurs who are looking to pitch their innovative ideas to a group of angel financiers.
Tech mogul Randi Zuckerberg, consumer products tycoon Ido Leffler, start-up advocate Sarah Prevette, and master marketer Lauren Maillian “will use their business expertise, industry knowledge, and creative vision to determine which up-and-coming products have the potential to be the next big thing.” For a business to receive venture capital, all four investors must unanimously agree. BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Lauren Maillian, to learn a few tips about what it really takes to transition from your full-time job to entrepreneurship.
BlackEnterprise.com: In each episode, entrepreneurs are trying to convince investors that they are worthy of their financial backing and mentorship. When it comes to making your business look attractive to an investor, what advice do you have for a aspiring or new business owner?
Maillian: Many people who transition from a full-time job to entrepreneurship are pulling from a lot of different thoughts and areas, and there’s no uniform process or easy way to analyze and track what’s going on. They’re always in a reactive or hustler mode and whatever the quick solution is, they just take it and make a move in desperation. But if you can’t explain why you made that decision to a future investor, it’s not the right decision to make.
Lack of clarity creates concern for a potential investor. If you didn’t think about why you did these things when you had no money, how are you going to think about these things when you get the money to work with?
One of the angel financiers on the show said: You can always fix a product, but you can’t fix an entrepreneur. What do you think about that statement?
He’s absolutely correct. People ask me all the time: ‘Are entrepreneurs born or made?’ In a lot of instances, people are born an entrepreneur. There are certain traits that make someone a great entrepreneur. For instance, they can be a resilient businessperson, and keep themselves motivated. Those are character traits that are not teachable skills. I talk about this a lot in my book The Path Redefined. I have an entire chapter on what’s teachable and what’s not teachable. This is exactly why companies are not hiring based on skill sets listed on a resume anymore, they’re looking for drive, resilience, persistence, work ethic or the quality of their work. You can’t create a level of integrity within someone.
A company or financier is investing in the human capital. Ultimately, they have a belief in that entrepreneur. Yes, obviously, you have to like the idea of the business, and you’re making sure the structure and revenue exist at that time, but you’re always betting on the entrepreneur more so than you’re betting on the company.
Beyond a financier and master marketer, you’re a mom, author, and serial entrepreneur who stepped out on faith to launch your own business. How do you respond to the person who says, “I want to take the leap into entrepreneurship but the economy is bad and the timing isn’t right? “
Sometimes, you can get the best opportunities when the economy is bad. When the economy is bad, that’s when companies are willing to take a risk on new talent, who may be less expensive or less seasoned. That’s when the competition gets a lot easier or you can create the experience that you’re looking to have. A poor economy also means you can cut some really good deals. You can get things running and off the ground for far less money. When the economy is really strong people are looking for that perfect candidate.
Although I don’t recommend that anyone work for free forever, working for a short time without pay, is sometimes invaluable. When I see people who are transitioning from one career path to another or from a full-time job to an entrepreneur, they know they don’t need to be the ‘big executive.’ Part of their game plan is to have some understanding of how things operate in that particular industry or at that particular company.
Sometimes having real life experience trumps having an MBA, JD or Ph.D. So you can, at least, say you understand how it works and move forward as an informed individual. I even tell my children, no one can take your intelligence from you, no one can take your drive, resilience, or persistence. These characteristics are ingrained in who you are, no one can’t strip you of those things.
When it comes to deciding whether the timing is right, I always ask myself, ‘Is it worth it, even if I fail?’ If the answer is yes, then there is no bad time.
Quit Your Day Job premieres Wednesday, March 30, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Will you watch?