4 years ago I presented to a group of UCLA undergraduates about Entrepreneurship vs the Corporate World. My goal was to show undergraduates how they can break the template lifestyle and say “No” to the corporate job that they believe they need to get. As an undergraduate, I too was brain-washed into believing that the corporate path was the only way to go.
After the presentation, an undergraduate approached me and said the following:
You know, the only reason you left the corporate world was because you weren’t an investment banker. There’s no way you could have turned down the six-figure salary.
Money as the end goal
I was raised under the philosophy that money brought happiness. My closest friends from back home in Orange County also believe that wealth and money are the end goals. It’s no wonder that as an undergraduate, my goal was to find the highest paying job possible.
And I succeeded. Though I didn’t have the six-figure investment banker salary, I had a very formidable salary as an undergrad and a sweet signing bonus as well.
A workaholic culture
I left the corporate world for the startup life for two main reasons:
- I wanted to work for myself
- It seemed to me that the startup life had a bigger payout – a $50 million exit within 5 years sounded pretty sweet to me
All of a sudden, I was thrust into the startup workaholic culture that praises those that work until 2am and neglect friends and family for the startup.
I lived it. For a long while, I prioritized work over my loved ones. It seemed that all I did was work; I even missed the wedding of one of my good friends from back home in Southern California because I couldn’t leave the Bay when my product was about to launch.
There’s never an end to the stress when you run an internet startup. Startups are a roller coaster ride, giving you more ups and downs than Goliath at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
I’ve failed and successfully sold multiple companies in the course of 5 years as an entrepreneur. I’ve found that raising million in funding not only opens the doors to many possibilities, but it greatly complicates business as well and adds an even greater level of stress.
After raising our $1 million angel round of funding, I had a large marketing budget that I used to sponsor conference and trade-shows. But along with these sponsorships comes the pressure and stress of having to close deals. Before funding, I still had to close deals, but I used cost-free methods to get clients. Now with angel funding, I was using very expensive methods to close deals, which added to the stress levels in the company.
What I wish I had known as an undergraduate
Time is the most valuable currency
Time with friends; time with family; just time to reflect and relax. Time is my most valuable currency, which is why my new focus in entrepreneurship is to build a lifestyle business.
Workaholics are not heroes
Canceling date-night with your girlfriend for work does not make you a hero; finishing your work early to catch happy hour with your girlfriend does make you a hero.
For the longest time I bragged to my fellow startup friends about how I worked 80+ hour weeks on my startup. Nowadays I make it a goal to work less than 40 hours per week. Every business decision that my team and I make now is a step forward to reducing hours worked and increasing value created.
Set financial goals
I used to save money for the sake of saving money. But now instead of arbitrarily saving money, I save money towards specific goals. My bank account is split into several accounts: home, car, wedding, travel, etc.
As long as I’m reaching my financial goals, I can spend my excess money however I want without feeling guilty.
He who dies with the best memories wins
As an undergraduate, I thought the goal was to make as much money as possible, work as hard as possible, and then fully enjoy life during retirement.
My new philosophy is to hit my financial goals as soon as possible, work as little as possible, and live a happy life now rather than later. It’s a simple change in mind-set that is so hard to realize as an undergraduate because everyone from teaches to peers is telling you differently.
Jun Loayza is the founder of Tour Woo, the easiest way to book a tour online. In his startup career, Jun has sold 2 internet companies, raised over $1,000,000 in angel funding, and lead social campaigns for LG, Sephora, and Whole Foods Market.