Big life decision – what would you have done?

Following on from my last post about “What I do”, I felt that the most honest answer I could really give was: “I just haven’t got a job”. However with the need to get placed with a company for NEF, that was going to have to change eventually..

My journey getting getting a placement sorted has been a bit stop-start, and at the end of Workshop #1, I was still without a place. Nevertheless, I was in touch with several people about working something about, so was feeling positive. As it happened, they miraculously all managed to co-ordinate their calendars, as I had a period of 36 hours where I interviewed with all 6.

At the end of play, I had a couple of call-backs, a couple of tentative offers and a weekend to mull.

It basically whittled down to two.

1. be placed in a young, dynamic team in a very cool, funded startup looking to grow internationally.

2. a startup that was looking to gain traction after launching the month previous.

This  was the decision I had to make. It soon became apparent that the only question I had to answer was do I want to work enough for 2., knowing that if it fails I’ll be without a wage in 5 or 6 months, and then need to find a new company to employ me all over again.

As is this the universal rule in all big life decisions; I called my Mum. This got my thoughts a little clearer.

I then sent an e-mail to 3 NEFers from previous years, each of whom I’d met only once. I speculatively hit Send, seeing if they would be able to offer a few words of advice. But because it was Monday afternoon and they were no doubt busy, I wasn’t expecting much.

I was really touched when within 4 hours I’d had thoroughly thought-out responses from all 3, and invitation to have a coffee in the morning.

The wise words from Emma, Nick and Jack came back in the form of questions I needed to ask myself, and once I answered them, I could clarify my thoughts further.

The key things to answer were:

– Do you trust the founder?

– Do you believe in the concept?

– If it fails, what’s your situation finance-wise?

These, I think, are very important things to ask if ever you are in such a position.

Nick also made a great point of how, if your future in the company depends upon its performance – then that’s a pretty big motivator..

After I digested all that had been said, I wrote down all of the points I could think about the role, and then looked to place them in a Pros or Cons column.

Where points such as “no fixed role” or “revenue streams not finalised” or “medium term office location unknown” are placed, gives an indication of risk profile.

On Tuesday I met with Emma for coffee (well, I had green tea) and we talked through further considerations, as well as her new company CrumbleBee

I then made the walk to Innovation Warehouse to talk to NEF about my decision.

I recently read a blog post by Josh Levy (fellow NEF classmate) who cited a speech by Steve Jobs saying how there are these events (or dots) in your life which, when looked back upon, to give a picture of where you’ve come from. Some will be more important than others, and for some reason, it felt like it I was making a particularly inky splodge this morning.

An hour later I was shaking hands high-fiving the guys starting up Tutorfair.

I start later this week.



As you can see, this was quite a drawn out process, and so for those of you still reading, apologies for dragging you along.

This was both the easiest and toughest decision I’ve had in a very long time. In an instant, after speaking to Andrew, I knew I wanted to take the job. However, I needed to rationalise to myself, to ensure I wouldn’t regret it further down the road. Hence the phone calls, emails, and scrappy ProCon piece of paper.

The big stickler for me here was the blatant opportunity cost of taking a job in a “proper” startup. In most situations in life we can say “Oh well it might mean this, or it might be that” and so the things you base your decision on can be quite hazy. My choice here was clear: take a £21k  (NEF placement company salary) on a guaranteed one-year contract at a very cool company, or go with a startup hoping to generate revenue and which could feasibly not take off.

The dot is on the page….


**If you, or someone you know, is, or will be, facing a similar situation – please do feel free to get in touch. I hope I’ll be able to help them.