From CEO To Startup: It’s More Than Giving Up The Corner Office

By Glen Tullman

Recently I was talking to a friend of mine who runs a large company. When he found out I’d left the corporate world to begin a startup, his eyes brightened, and he told me he’d always thought of doing the same. I knew what he expected me to say next: that only a little effort stood between him and starting the next Google. But when I told him what it’s actually like to be a startup leader, his smile slowly turned into a frown, and I could tell he wasn’t ready to leave the corporate world.

Nearly 40% of startup founders were previously corporate leaders, including many who had held CEO positions; and close to 29% were previously senior vice presidents, vice presidents, managers or directors, according to Harvard Business School. That’s a lot of white-collar executives moving into the startup world. According to that same study, 75% of all venture-backed startups fail to return investors’ capital. Another Harvard Business School study shows that entrepreneurs who have failed before but who are trying again have a 20% chance of success — so much for serial entrepreneurs and learning; first-time entrepreneurs have only an 18% shot. There are plenty of reasons for a startup to bomb, but I think part of the problem is that these former corporate executives don’t entirely know what they are getting into…

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