Two years ago, I decided to step away from the public service career I was pursuing and founded a tech startup. I studied international relations in hopes of one day working for the government as a diplomat. After my Master’s, I ended up working in the non-profit sector and what I learned is that the fruits of my labor were not evident, they took months, if not years, to achieve, and depended on a handful, if not a dozen, other people.
Despite years invested in my international relations education and huge student debt, my husband and I decided to quit our jobs and focus on building our very own startup company, CareLuLu, to change the child care industry, starting with simplifying the way parents find daycare and preschool. This issue was meaningful to us because at that time we had just gone through the pain of finding a daycare for our own daughters. It was also an untapped and massive market. Together with Gabriel, our third co-founder, we wanted to create a one-stop shop that allowed parents to search, filter, and compare licensed child care programs. And that’s exactly what we did!
It’s been nearly two years since my career change and here are some of the things I love about my job as an entrepreneur.
- My life is never boring. No week is the same. I’m constantly putting out fires, solving problems, and exploring new directions for our company to take. I love being a doer.
- I learn something new every day. I have no doubt that I learned more building CareLuLu than I would have learned pursuing an MBA. In the process, I probably spent about the same amount of money.
- My work has an immediate social impact. I always wanted to do public service, but through CareLuLu I found what I deem to be a faster way to help others.
- I get to handpick the people I work with and surround myself with those whose company I enjoy. I know it’s not for everyone, but I co-founded this company with my husband and best friend. I don’t think I could have found better co-founders!
- I work to the bone, but have the flexibility a typical job would not allow. I regularly stay up ‘til 3 in the morning working but every now and then, I can take 3 hours off for lunch to go to Malibu for a bowl of chowder and mussels. Or I can go to my daughters’ preschool performance in the middle of the day without worrying about what my boss might say.
- I get to innovate, experiment and think big. From day to day my head may be in small operational details, but everything I and my co-founders do is driven by the big vision.
- I love working in a space I can personally relate to. When you become a parent, there’s nothing closer to one’s heart than kids. Working in the parenting space allows me to contribute and take something away not just professionally, but also personally as a mom.
- I get to travel a lot and meet lots of fascinating people. Traveling was one of the reasons I wanted to become a diplomat. It isn’t obvious, but as an entrepreneur you also can travel quite a bit. In 2014, my family lived in 4 cities (Washington, DC; Durham, NC; and Los Angeles, CA; before finally settling in San Francisco). Last year, I also traveled to Tajikistan (of all places!) to speak at the Global Entrepreneurship Week, Las Vegas for a startup pitch competition, and Nashville TN, among a number of other US cities to attend startup conferences.
- I am part of an inspirational and supportive community. Tech entrepreneurs are a pretty small bunch that for the most part pay it forward and offer each other help.
- I now have more career opportunities than ever before. The skills I developed and the connections I made as an entrepreneur are guaranteed to lead to a more diverse and brighter career path than I would have otherwise had.
Being an entrepreneur is a hard and often lonely job. It requires perseverance through many failures along the way. It is not glamorous, but it is rewarding. Look at your entrepreneurial venture as a great learning opportunity. I love my job as a startup founder and Chief Operations Officer, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.