Dinner, friends and social life were sacrificed for overseas conference calls, emails and Red Bull. I had to schedule everyone and everything as if I were running the Italian trains!
From breakfast in the morning to brushing my teeth at night, I had to optimize every moment. My days and nights were spent efficiently but I didn’t have much of an existence outside or work. I was successfully juggling all my responsibilities by moon lighting and using technology, but I now knew there was a cost. I was working on building my business every night, all night, and it was clear that this was what it would take for me to be successful.
Rethink or Resign?
The question I was soon facing—both financially and emotionally—was, “When could I afford to leave my day job and pursue my business full-time?
Foregoing a regular income, a savings plan and health insurance for an untested new business is a difficult decision. I questioned whether the startup would generate enough money to sustain itself and provide enough salary to cover my expenses. I also knew that if I was ever going to realize my dreams, now was the time to move, as I had no dependents or debt. I had to act.
Making the leap got a little easier in March 2010. A national competition called WeMedia Pitch It Challenge came to Miami to award one new business—out of hundreds of applicants—$25,000 to get their enterprise off the ground. Although the University of Miami was hosting the competition, employees of the University were excluded from participating. That meant that as long as I continued working at The Launch Pad, I would be unable to compete or test my business plan against the ideas of others. It was the incentive I needed.
The Turning Point
I quit my full-time job on March 1, 2010 and entered the competition that same day.
My decision paid off. I took home the prize to help start Audimated.com, my online music business. The money gave me enough cash to feel more optimistic about my chances to survive on credit cards and savings until the new business could sustain itself.
I also felt tremendously validated by a strict set of judges and successful business owners who chose me as the winner. Now I had the cash, time, and investors in place to comfortably pursue entrepreneurship. Little did I know that I still had to face the even greater challenges of being a full-time entrepreneur!
Photo Credit: Mango
Lucas Sommer is the founder of three successful music companies which he continues to own and operate profitably. His newest venture is Audimated.com, a site that aims to revolutionize the independent music scene.