Sharmini Wainwright is managing director of Michael Page & Page Personnel Hong Kong. With over 13 years’ experience with PageGroup, she oversees specialist recruitment across finance, financial services, sales & marketing, legal and more.
Should I join my friends venture?
A former colleague with whom I have a good relationship has started up her own business in the same industry. She has invited me to join her at a lower salary, but with the incentive of being able to build the business together. I enjoy my job, but find it a bit too hierarchical. Should I take a gamble on joining my friend’s business, or stay in the secure environment of my present job?
It seems you are at a career crossroads, trying to decide whether to take a risk on a new and entrepreneurial career venture or stay on your current path. This is a common scenario, particularly in the field of sales, where individuals leave larger organisations to start their own business. There are a couple of things to consider at this point.
Firstly, assess your personality. Are you naturally a risk-taker, or are you more conservative in outlook and behaviour? This is important, as a typically conservative individual will find the “set-up” phase of a new business very stressful, while a risk-taker might find it liberating and a positive challenge. Also, think how you would respond within the new environment and whether that aligns with your natural personality.
Secondly, what does your current role offer you? While it sounds like you enjoy the security it offers, what else does it offer you? Diversity at work? Experience in a multinational? Learning and training? New projects? More importantly, what is your role within your current organisation, and what will your role be in three years’ time? This is a critical question which identifies your mid-term scope and opportunities for progression.
Thirdly, examine the new business opportunity objectively. Put aside the emotional high that comes from something that sounds ‘fresh’, ‘new’ and ‘entrepreneurial’, as that quickly fades with the intensity of the set-up phase.
Something more important to consider is: do you believe in the vision and product/service that the company is offering? Is it compelling relative to the rest of the market? While your friend might have identified an outstanding opportunity, ensure you view it through objective eyes.
One way to do this would be to discuss the opportunity with a trusted, knowledgeable and experienced individual to gain another perspective.
Finally, consider the working relationship. Many business ventures between friends sour due to the overlapping of personal and business relationships. In my experience, the less “close” you are on a personal basis, the better.
The good news is you have options and the ball is in your court. While this is a hard decision, hopefully the points above will help – and remember the saying: “Better the devil you know.”