“A business is like having a child,” says Heidi Zak.
Zak is the CEO and cofounder, along with her husband Dave Spector, of bra company ThirdLove. In 2012, Zak left her position as a Google senior marketing manager to found her startup.
Zak (who, by the way, has two human children) explained that entrepreneurs need to be in it for the long haul. If you have doubts about being able to raise your baby — er, develop your business idea — for years to come, you’re in trouble.
So before you quit your job and go all-in as an entrepreneur, you’ll want to ask yourself: Is this something I could spend my life doing?
Just as important, you’ll want to consider: Is this something I could spend my life doing and be happy?
ThirdLove, which sells bras online and aims to provide women with a better fit than traditional retailers, has raised over $13 million in funding, according to Crunchbase.
Based on her experience starting the company, Zak said that especially in a company’s early days, entrepreneurs should be comfortable working 80- to 100-hour workweeks. That necessarily means sacrificing time with friends or on other non-work activities.
But even after that, Zak said, running a company is all-consuming.
When Zak meets with aspiring entrepreneurs who she mentors informally, she asks them: “Are you willing to give up the stability of what you’re doing? Are you willing to give up your salary? Are you willing to give up time and energy — for a while?”
“Sometimes,” she said, “people honestly are like, ‘I’m not.’ And then I say to them them, “You should not be thinking about quitting your job and starting a business.”
Zak said she sees a “halo” around entrepreneurship these days — people think it’s “cool” to start a business.
And while it can be cool, Zak said there will also be “dark days” when you’re not sure if your business will ever succeed.
“Those moments in time are really hard,” she said.
Of those “dark days,” she added, “There’s a reality of what really starting a company is like.”