I work in finance and have a stable job with lots of growth potential. However, I have no passion here. When I think about working for a startup, my eyes light up with excitement. I'm immobilized because I'm stuck debating between the two potential career paths. What things should I consider in helping make a decision so I can march forward?
First, ask yourself how stable is your stable job. I was in a similar situation, I was an attorney in an established law firm, and I struggled with myself a lot when leaving for joining a company that might not be there anymore in one year. Guess what, a flip of the economy and my ex-employer fired 30 attorneys in one day. No advance notice. Finance does not look like a very stable industry either, at least right now.
What you call lack of stability is just the fear of switching from a known situation to something unknown, and therefore risky. Once you realize that, I think you can make a better decision by stating your priorities and aswering questions like: how long can you remain sane working at a job you are not passionate about? How much can you handle unstructured business and roller-coaster moments? How much do you care about salary and prestige?
Bottom line: working in a big corporate environment is not more stable, is just more predictable. By working for a smaller company, you sacrifice that comforting feeling for more engagement and possibly higher rewards (few startups win big, but when they do, no IB partner stands the comparison!).
Final words of advice: worst case scenario, you take the chance, go work for a startup (better, THE startup), learn a ton, fail, and come back to finance. You might lose a couple steps in the corporate ladder, but the value of the experience will be yours forever. And you grew some balls.
There are a range of things you should think about before jumping in.
But these are just my experiences, your likely to have your own list that looks different to mine. Really if your happy to take the pay cut and your single or have a partner who is backing you, I would recommend trying it for a few years, you can always return to corporate life, usually with more experience and thus target a better role.
I sioerulsy don't understand you.
When I think about working for a startup, my eyes light up with excitementWhy? What are you running away from?
I am not disputing that working in a startup is exciting - but it should not be because it is a startup (in general) but because of what you can do there and / or the exciting product being worked on. You say nothing about "I have an idea for a startup", you seem to think that in general life in a startup is a lot better than in an established career.
Startups are hard and high risk.
Make sure you like THE startup, not A startup.
You should consider whether or how much you're willing to fail. I'm sure you 'fail' at your current job, but failing at the task of boot-strapping or merely working-at a startup is different. If you're like me, you consider quitting a failure of sorts. You may eventually quit your startup because of the stress. You may quit because of personal finances. You might be fired because you can't hack it! Or – what might be worst of all – maybe your startup simply dies (as almost all of them do).
Despite what Steve Jobs may have said, the world in fact would probably not be a better place if everyone followed their (work) dreams. You should consider all of the benefits of working for a startup – self-direction, flexible working times and environments, challenging projects, etc. – as just another form of compensation. How much less would you accept from your current employer if you were able to secure each of the benefits of working at a startup?
Everybody has ideas and would love to work for their ideas but the question is do you have a market for it? Try to find your customers for your business you are thinking about it. Talk to your friends and other people over phone and see if you have a market? If 9/10 say that your idea is great then by all means you should start you company. If 1/10 feels the need then probably you should stay in your job.
I'm saying this because one of my friends quit his job and started a start up company and it is going great till now because he did a lot of ground work before and found who his customers were and went for it.
So do your ground work and identify your market size and if you think the target market is big enough then go for it.