Making the decision to leave the steady job:
The decision to leave isn’t easy. I waited as long as I could, and had as much built of KillBiller as possible before leaving. You don’t want to be starting from a completely blank page when you go for it! Getting this in place, however, takes quite a number of working evenings – but I think most entrepreneurs will agree that it doesn’t feel like work if you love doing it.
Really, you should aim to be as close to getting customers, or if possible, have paying customers, before you write your notice letter. That said, even when things are in place, handing in your notice from a steady, and well-paying job, is always going to be a daunting occasion – I won’t forget that day for a while. But you’d be surprised – after a few weeks it seems completely natural!
Maintaining a good relationship with the employers you’ve left:
Employers know that some good people leave. It happens all the time. There’s absolutely no reason to burn bridges, and I think its important to leave on good terms. I’m still in regular contact with my old employers, and we meet up to catch up on progress – which is interesting for both sides!
On a broader note, Dublin is a small place, so dirtying your bib when you leave is generally ill advised, no matter if you hated the job or not. On the other side, If your boss doesn’t understand your drive and ambition to try your own thing and takes the news very badly, you’re probably not losing out on much.
The 6 month window:
Six months isn’t a long time. At the start of our endeavour, KillBiller, we gave ourselves six months to see if we could make it go. Its important to keep track of time – don’t get stuck chasing an idea that doesn’t have legs. Six months is enough time to have initial traction, potentially some customers, and be talking about investment. Looking at things as a “6-month risk” is a lot less daunting than thinking of your entrepreneurship decision as an irreversible, life-changing decision.
Six months is also generally long enough that you can realistically estimate where you’ll be at the end – that’s a much harder job if you try to look 5 years ahead! During your six months, pivot (change your aims / business proposition) if you have to, and find the fit for your product.
Breaking down the mammoth workload into doable bits:
There’s a great saying that says “The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step”. Looking at a startup idea and envisioning it as a booming business is overwhelming, and can make the task seem completely unsurmountable. I think the “overnight success” stories that we hear so often perpetuate this perception – The Facebook movie would have been a lot less exciting if it showed Mark in his room slobbering over code for months on end!
So many of the days between startup and success are filled with the mundane – make a website, call a customer, make some slides, send 20 emails, write some code that barely works. Taking each day separately, and making a little bit of progress forward is what it’s about – only when you look back in 3/6/12 months do you see the distance you’ve come. As a team, I think patience in this area is something we really struggle with.
Writing down and honestly reviewing milestones:
This ties back to the 6-month windows – I take a point of writing down where we are, and trying to look ahead 6 months and write realistic milestones for where we will be or what we expect then. You need to have some deal breakers – If we’re not at X, then Y. Its easy to contort your vision from a few months ago as time flies by and all too easy to excuse a lack of traction and slow progress. Luckily, it’s harder to put a slant on a written record of your thoughts at the time! As a team, we sit down regularly to discuss our longer term goals, and review older ones at the same time
What’s in store for KillBiller in the next 6 months:
KillBiller is a mobile app that works out exactly how much you can save your mobile bill by analysing your usage. KillBiller is growing quickly at the moment, with new users every day. Its a great time for us with networks from Carphone Warehouse, UPC, and Postmobile entering the Irish market – so its prime time for people to compare!
We’re just about to release the ability to assess pay-as-you-go-plans in our mobile application and the next stop is to have phone prices also built in for people – its the next big thing that makes the decision on mobile plans for people. We’re also launching in the UK and Canada in the coming months – so there’s some exciting times ahead.