Monday, April 19, 2010

Leaving a corporate job to start a business - Part one

I recently saw the movie Lemonade." Priti Punjabi told me. "Itʼs about really smart people who got laid off from advertising. They had been stuck into the routine of a job and the spirit inside them had gone to sleep. When I quit my corporate job I had wanted to awaken that spirit in myself and not be forced to have to do it by circumstances beyond my control."

Priti got her first advertising job around 9/11. "I was green," she said. "But I soon realized that you could lose your job at any time." After stints in a couple of ad agencies, she landed a job in a well-known global ad corporation. "It is a great company. I was passionate about my work. But then came the little reminder. I got a new boss around the time I was facing some personal issues. She had not seen how
hard I had been working, and she challenged me, asking ʻDo you want this job or not?ʼ I looked at the employee manual and discovered that the company policy for bereavement leave was just three days. And then I looked across at the person in the office opposite:she had to come back to work just 3 months after having a baby."

Her conversation with her new boss had stirred something up. Priti asked herself if the corporate structure was really for her. "I decided I wanted to challenge myself to open my own business. But," she wondered, "Can I do this?" She first thought about opening a youth hostel; but quickly realized that would cost too much money - and besides, she wasnʼt sure she had the confidence to take on
something that big. Then a friend suggested that dog daycare was a growing business.

Priti had a new dog and was paying someone $30 a day to play with it. This felt like a business she could get her feet wet in. "Williamsburg in Brooklyn is a busy, hot area - this is where I wanted to put it. I found a place - and a silent partner to help fund it."

She prepared a business plan, though she told me "I think it is kinda bullshit. After all, what are those projected numbers? They are just made up." But her landlord asked to see it before he would give her a lease on the space - so it was not in vain.

"The whole thing was very scary - but I thrive on the gamble. I think that itʼs about retaining the youthful fearlessness - you need to keep it alive for your own sake."

Read more of Pritiʼs story here soon

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