Thinking of Your Career as a Startup

Broadly speaking, it’s useful to think of your career as a startup.

Your profit+growth percentage should be a minimum 40%

So say, you join a big company like Microsoft and your skills grow at 20% every year, while your pay only grows 10% - that’s bad.

You need to grow your skills and outcomes faster.

The other extreme is also fine: You join a small startup which can make great use of entrepreneurial DNA plus specific skills.

Your pay jump is 30%, and your skills grow only 10% - that is fine too

Your pay is profit. Growth is demonstrable skills growth.

Think of each career move as a Merger and Acquisition: Write a detailed document with the best reasons for making the switch.

Make the best argument possible. And then, red team it. Shred it to pieces.

I’ve done years where I grew by ~50% because of 15% pay jump and ~30% skills jumps - but doing it consistently is what matters. I’ve never done a 2-year streak of 40%+ growth in my career.

Most college graduates that I know - earn double of their starting pay at 30 years old. Which is effectively the growth rate of a fixed deposit. Fixed deposits are among the worst asset classes to invest in India.

  • Their gains come from savings and investments and the magic of compounding, not higher income alone
  • Your starting income should be high, or restart your career in some way e.g. moving to a new country

Charge more. Grow more

Assigning a % or $ value to your skills

The most common criticism of this approach is this: “I don’t know how to measure my skill growth - it’s intangible”

Saying something is intangible is a way of saying it has large error margins, it still has a minimum, median and a maximum.

Figure out all three, you don’t need precision - you need worst case scenarios.

Look at any company’s balance sheet: They’ve a “brand value” intangible and they assign a $$ value to it.

Millions of people pay millions of dollars for the Nike, Apple, Sony brand every year - it’s a not a miracle.

The $$ values don’t have to be precise. People always get lost in details.

I just ask them for the minimum, maximum and median - and people are like — ohh, yeah, that makes sense - we can guess these with some work.

Do the work. Charge more. Grow more.

Mummy ka Raja beta, Nirant

Originally appeared at my newsletter