Quitting my job

Posted by ryansouthgate on 10 May 2017
Skydive Instructor: “You’ve just jumped out of a perfectly good plane at 14,000ft”

As of the 28th April, I’m officially jobless….well that’s a bit of a stretch, I’ve got a job….full time in fact, I’m just not getting paid for it.

Back in February, I handed in my 1 month’s notice, for my (then) current place of work. I’d been there since finishing University (Summer 2011). 5 years and 10 months is a long time in the IT industry.

The morning of handing in my notice, I was a little nervous, but mostly excited. I went into a room with my manager and handed him the formal letter. One of the first questions was “Where are you going?”. He wanted to know which company I had agreed to join and was moving to. I gave him the answer I would be giving to others that asked over the next couple of months;

Me: “Nowhere” Colleagues: “You’re retiring?!?” (was the most common response)

…I elaborated…

Me: “I’m going to try and make it on my own for a while” Colleagues: “Ah! Contracting!” Me: “No, I’m building a website with a friend”

After running through the conversation above with my manager, he said “Nice one, guess there’s not much that we can do to keep you”. Which is right, leaving a company to start your own, is a difficult thing to compete with. If I was leaving to work for another company then there are things the current company can do, they can offer more money, a promotion, different job role and a whole host of other things to try and tempt someone to stay. But competing with the dream of working with a friend on a new business venture, that’s real tough!

The days after I handed my notice in, I was asked if I’d consider staying for an extra 2 months to get a new project started, using Aurelia. It didn’t take much persuading to work on an exciting project built in Aurelia. I’ve wanted to try Aurelia ever since it came out, but as I’m sure many will relate - I just never found the spare time. So I stayed and used it very successfully for 2 months.

The dream

My Co-Founder had an idea for a website a few years ago. We discussed it while we were in New York. It sounded great and whilst only having a little under 4 years “commercial experience” working on websites, I thought, “Yeh, I could build that”. We sat for a while chatting and it turned into one of those conversations where you just keep adding features. We must have said the phrase “Yeh, and it could do…..” about 100 times.

It’s been a few years since that conversation, things in life have changed, I’ve changed and so has the world. But one thing remained; The dream of starting my own company. When I think about what it means to start a company the main thing that comes to mind is I’m going to be able to define my own technological path. For both the company and my own personal learning. This is the choice to use the right technologies for the job. I love learning new technologies and new methods of doing things. Having the ability and responsibility of making these decisions is something I’m going to really enjoy.

Why’s it taken so long?

Quite simply, things have gotten in the way. Co-Founder and I, were both in jobs at the inception of the idea, neither really wanted to just up sticks and leave. I personally felt that I had a little bit more learning to do where I was. Learning that could potentially benefit this venture. I was also more than half way into a 5-year “ShareSave Scheme” that was looking at paying out nicely…. which equals “Seed Money” or money to live off while I no longer have a guaranteed wage.

Why now?

That’s an easy answer…and it brings me back to the first paragraph of this post.

Skydive Instructor: “You’ve just jumped out of a perfectly good plane at 14,000ft”

Over the 2016 Christmas Holidays and New Year (2017) I was on holiday with my girlfriend. We went to Australia and stayed with her family for parts and then went off exploring after.

I’d been planning on handing my notice after returning from this “Holiday of a lifetime”, there were two things that happened there that further cemented this plan.

The first, was the skydive. I’ve never done one before and what better location to do one in than Airlie Beach, Australia? After booking it and finally deciding a date/time I thought about why I’m doing it. Why does anyone jump out of a plane? Excluding imminent danger from being on the plane, it’s usually for the experience. I wanted to see if I was capable of throwing myself out of a plane and to feel what it was like to plummet towards the earth. And that’s the same with starting my own business, I just want to know what it feels like and ultimately, if I’m capable of doing it. It’s a strange feeling jumping out of a plane. The plane was fine, it was working and even sitting on the floor was relatively comfy. And that’s how I felt about being full-time employed, it’s fine, it’s comfy and safe. But taking that leap and trying something totally unfamiliar…that’s what starting out on my own is all about.

The second, was talking to my girlfriend’s uncle. He used to live in the UK and owned a business with his wife. He later sold up, moved to Australia with his family and they bought a business there. I told him about my plans for starting my own company, what we’d be doing etc. He was very supportive and offered advice whenever I need it. On our last day in Australia he dropped us back to Brisbane Airport and left me with some final advice. He said that, before he started out, he first made a list of things he wanted from life. He gave me a few examples, one being the ability to go on a few nice holidays a year, but told me really think about what I want out of life, cos you only get one! That really struck a chord with me, I’ve been told “you only get one life” numerous times before, but this time was different. It hit me, I’m not going to be here forever and I’ve got to enjoy my time here (I’m nearly 30!!!!!!). As you’d expect I was thinking about my own mortality and of all the things I want to do/accomplish before I depart.

We talked some more and I asked loads more questions. We got on to the subject of money, now (I’m assuming) a lot of people’s motivations when starting their own business is to “make as much cash as possible/rule the world” etc. Which also seems to be a bit of trend in the “Silicon Valley Start Up Scene”, according to David Heinemeier Hansson

Part of the problem seems to be that nobody these days is content to merely put their dent in the universe. No, they have to fucking own the universe. It’s not enough to be in the market, they have to dominate it.

Girlfriend’s Uncle and I talked about how, for us, money doesn’t appear on that list. Ours seemed to be about time, friends and family.

Looking back, I’ve probably waited a little longer than I should, however, I’ve saved enough money to sustain me for a little while which means I can afford to work on this full time without it generating any income.

The Jump

So this is my “jump”, I left the plane (work) on 28th April 2017. I have fond memories of that place and I learnt so much there, from many skilled people. Without them and their help/guidance, some of the things I’m hoping to achieve wouldn’t be possible or would have taken me crazy amounts of time to learn myself.

I’ve kept the routine I had for last 5 years, up at 7:30am and finish about 4:00pm. I don’t want to throw away that discipline just yet.

I’m working on the website with a friend, I will mostly be in the Technical/Developer role, whereas my Co-Founder is in the “everything else” role.

The Future

I’ll hopefully find a bit more time to blog. I’ll keep up with the technical type posts which explain concepts/ways of accomplishing certain things, which might move into more Architectural/System type posts too. But I’m also going to write a few posts about how we’re doing with the business and to generally get stuff off my chest.

Are you embarking on a new journey? Have you had your own website/business for a while now? I’d love to hear about your experiences, get in touch in the comments!

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