Startups don't hedge their bets

April 28, 2011 · 1 min read

Recently I was giving advice to someone who is looking to move to the Bay Area and break into the startup world. He's looking for a job at a startup here, and his plan is that if he doesn't find one soon, he's just going to quit his job and move here anyway while he continues the search.

He asked me whether that would look bad on his resume, to have been out of work for a few months. I told him no, and that in fact, as a hiring manager, I would admire his decision. He has the guts to take a risk by quitting his job in order to take a bold step toward his goals. That's the right mentality for a startup.

Startups don't hedge their bets. The very nature of a startup is to take a big risk for a huge reward. The challenge is so great, and the resources so small, that everything you have must be concentrated on a single objective. Startups have one bullet in the chamber, one chance to hit the target. You can't afford to hold anything in reserve for a backup plan. (And besides, compared to an established, profitable company, you have nothing to lose.)

Part of the founder mentality is being willing, indeed eager, to take on this kind of risk.

These days I do most of my writing at The Roots of Progress. If you liked this essay, check out my other work there.


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