Why I gave up my 6-figure salary to start a risky venture
I always knew I wanted to have an impact. I wanted to create something that would change the world, make people’s lives better, or at least invest my time in solving problems that mattered to me.
Growing up as a woman in Morocco and living in four continents, I have seen injustice around me in many aspects of life. Things like women being treated unfairly, young people not getting access to education, huge wealth gaps, wage inequality, and gender discrimination, just to name a few.
I always felt an urge to do something about it. Until recently, I never really did in a meaningful way, but I also silently hoped that the day would come when I would decide to make an impact; the day when I had the means, the knowledge and more than anything, the courage to stand up, and ACT.
I guess that’s why I had the “entrepreneurial itch” since as long as I can remember. I always aspired to create things that matter. And although I enjoyed my 6-year career at a top-tier consulting firm and in banking, it never felt like enough. There was something important missing. I believe I was born to be an entrepreneur. And when you are born to be an entrepreneur, you just know it deep in your guts, as I always did.
Quitting my corporate career wasn’t an overnight decision, but actually a rather long process. And to my surprise, when I look back on it, what was really blocking me wasn’t the money. Of course, I knew we would have to make a lot of financial sacrifices. My wife and I just bought a condo a year prior, and just like many, we loved traveling a lot. I knew there was always going to be a solution. We would work out the financials one way or another. And we kind of did. We rented out a bedroom in our condo to help pay the mortgage and I took some consulting gigs now and then to make ends meet. And we weren’t really planning to take any vacation in the short-mid term given the fact that we’re starting up a business.
Eventually, we would visit our families and stay with them at no cost (we are also lucky that our families live in pretty exotic places so visiting “home” feels very much like a vacation for both of us).
So, if it was not about the money, what was blocking me for so many years?
Many compare it to jumping off a cliff. I think it’s not the best metaphor as it mostly conveys fear. I would say it’s more like getting off the beaten track and exploring the wilderness. Because we aspire to more than what we’ll get from going through the beaten track; because we are ready to accept a higher risk to get a shot at a higher reward. For me, nor was taking a higher risk an issue or a blocker to my decision. I don’t mind taking more calculated risks in general. The difficult thing was getting from thought to action and making a tough choice.
What I realized is that I’ve never really made any hard decisions before. I was used to going with the flow and choosing the logical next step without much introspection. And it has always been like that as far as I can remember. I completed high school with honors and a math specialty, so I went to study math. I then decided to go to a business school because it kept a lot of doors open as you can have many different jobs after graduating with a business degree. Choosing a specific path was not for me, because I could not decide on one single path, fully commit to it, and abandon all the other possibilities. Again after my MBA, the most logical best ‘no-choice’ was working in strategy consulting.
And that’s why this particular hard decision forced upon me the courage of going all-in: focusing only on building my business, dropping my shiny day job and committing to making my venture successful. It didn’t seem rational at the time, neither to me nor to many people around me.
Realizing the profound reason that kept blocking me was enlightening. It was all I needed to change myself and finally decide I was going to be who I want to be. No excuses. No hesitation. And that’s how June 1st, 2019 became the first day of the rest of my life, as I began working full-time on my Startup. A life a step closer to my aspirations.
It might seem simplistic, unreal or even childish. But it is really this simple. Making a hard choice made me change my life. I aspire to be someone that makes the world a better place, and that’s who I chose to be.
And what’s powerful about this is that it can be applied to many areas in our lives. In fact, I recently decided to quit refined sugar and alcohol, not just for a month or a year, but forever. It’s a hard choice, but I was mentally ready to make it and stick to it.
Making the hard choices that appeal to you and that are in line with your values, ultimately takes you closer to who you aspire to be.
I hope this inspires rising entrepreneurs to get off the beaten track, or anyone with similar hopes to decide to be who they want to be.