You’ve got the genius business idea. So why is there still a part of you that’s terrified to break free of your reliable 9-to-5?
Randi Zuckerberg is here to help. The 34-year-old serial entrepreneur and recent NYC transplant guides wannabe moguls as they pursue their passions in her new docu-series, “Quit Your Day Job,” premiering Wednesday on Oxygen.
Zuckerberg — who has launched production company Zuckerberg Media, two books and a children’s show that’s set to debut in September — shares her secrets with The Post for breaking free from day-job doldrums and living the startup dream.
Work somewhere else first
“Don’t undercut the value of going to work for someone else,” says Zuckerberg, who toiled in advertising after graduating from college and before moving on to Facebook, where she was the director of market development. “There’s a lot of value in understanding how to work with a team, how to take on grunt jobs . . . and what goes into running an organization. With a startup, you’re the CEO and also the janitor, and you have to be willing to do anything it takes to make it a success.”
Quit the right way
The last thing you want to do before stepping out on your own is burn bridges with the people who have helped you along the way. “Make sure that you retain your relationship [with your employer]. You’ve probably built up some great know-how and contacts and you want to make sure you retain those contacts,” says Zuckerberg. “Quit in a way that’s respectful. Give your employer enough time to find a replacement and make sure there aren’t any questions about whether you were working on your startup on the company’s time.”
Create a job you’re passionate about
“For me, passion is the No. 1 thing I look for,” says Zuckerberg, who also invests in startups.
“Since most startups unfortunately fail, [passion is] what gets people through a difficult time,” she continues. “Make sure [your company] is something that, eight years down the road from now, you’re still going to be excited to get out of bed and work on, because hopefully you’ll be in this for a long time.”
Take a look at your finances
“Know how much risk you can take on,” says the mother of two. “You want to make sure you’re not doing it in a way that is putting your future or family in jeopardy.
“Some entrepreneurs are single and can afford to risk it all. Others have multiple children, school tuitions, a mortgage. This is a deeply personal decision, but what I can say is that investors will want to see that an entrepreneur has put enough of their own money and time into a startup to truly have skin in the game.”
Adapt to new trends
“I love to see an entrepreneur walk into a meeting with a business plan. I also like to see that they’re willing to scrap that plan in a moment’s notice,” says Zuckerberg. “I don’t want them to come in so married and stuck to their business plan that they can’t pivot to another opportunity.”
As an example, she cites how companies had to massively readjust when the first iPhone came out in 2007. “Companies that did not shift, and stuck to their original models and plans, fell way behind the competition. As an entrepreneur, you need to assume that the ‘next iPhone’ could come out at any moment, and you may need to shift your entire business on a dime in order to stay relevant.”
Admit your mistakes — and fix them
“The biggest mistake I’ve made in launching my own company was in the location. After I left Facebook, I was doing a media company . . . and I launched it in Palo Alto, Calif., because I was living there. That was the wrong decision, because if you’re in media, you need to be in New York or LA. I spent two years trying to fit a square peg into a round hole,” she says.
If she could do it over again, Zuckerberg would have used business simulation software to test out her concept in a cost-efficient way before taking the plunge.
“Looking back, I wish I could have told myself five years ago to test out my idea in two or three different cities/geographies to see what was working best, rather than invest money and time into Palo Alto and then learn the hard way!”