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The Startup Life: Walking Away From (Financial) Stability

Starting on your own is scary, risky but also the most rewarding feeling ever.

Hey friends,

I’m a little late this week, as it’s already Thursday. Please forgive the delay; I am currently in Cyprus, wrapping up my last outstanding commitment here. It’s a bittersweet feeling to see the project slowly come to the finish line, but also be aware that this finishes the next chapter. One quick sneak peek, and let’s dive into this week’s topic: walking away from stability and betting on yourself.

My journey with startups isn’t the most typical. I was fortunate enough to start my first (and longest-running) company while I was still in high school and living with my parents. While this came with its fair share of challenges (juggling school work, friends, and school responsibilities), it was also a great point in time to take risks. My living situation provided an excellent safety net; I had no dependents and was starting the company to make my life a little easier, especially when working with “older“clients who would not have worked with an HS Student but were happy to hire the company.

At the time, I was spared the hard decision of taking a risk betting on my own. If Julo’s Development (later TCG) didn’t work out, I’d start something else later. There was no high-paying tech job I was walking away from; rent was not a factor, and I knew I had time. Looking back, I can now see that many choices that resulted in the most significant growth were from the fact that I didn’t see the risks and just jumped right in. My favorite quote, “Done is better than perfect, “was especially true back then. You could say I was blissfully unaware and had the first-time founder advantage.

Over the years, TCG became the comfortable, high-paying job many people leave to start their own business. It was safe and reliable, and we’ve optimized the processes over the years to make it a smooth-running machine. Every time the thought of leaving crossed my mind, burnout got the better of me, or I was fed up with the paperwork; the lucrative stability was the deciding factor to stay. Looking back now, it’s a little funny that the “startup “became the “stable corporate job“.

Over the last few years, I’ve had to or better yet chose to, walk away from the stability and the comfortable choice twice.

The first time was in April 2023, after six years at EMS Cyprus (and later GBCenter) working in a difficult-to-define chief-of-staff/operations manager role. I won’t lie; it wasn’t smooth sailing for most of the time, but the financial remuneration was excellent, and I loved the team I worked with over the years. Following two years of significant challenges and problems with upper management, a problematic CEO dead-set in his ways, and immune to progress and improvement, the choice eventually made itself. Making that decision was incredibly hard and challenging. Still, it turned out to be one of the best I could have taken, freeing me up professionally and personally, giving way to a better work-life balance and general enjoyment thereof. It was scary at first, and for many months, I worried about the implications of losing this additional income stream and what would come of it. From today’s point of view, I can confidently say: Take The Leap!
We have one life and drastically less time than we think. Tomorrow is never guaranteed, and there will never be the “perfect time“to quit and pursue something else.
I had a chance to see the team for a few more months on occasions when in Cyprus before, eventually, it went from 6 to just 2. I’m thrilled that they found new opportunities, and I can only wish all of them the best of luck.

The second (and most significant) time was this January when I decided to step away from the safety and comfort net of TCG and take up a position at Natalia’s startup Nutrified. This one is much more akin to the traditional startup story, leaving my comfort zone and taking a giant leap of faith. It feels fantastic most of the time. The work we do and will be doing over the coming months resonates with me and gives me pleasure to wake up in the morning. The mission of being an impact-driven company is one I can finally stand behind and say I genuinely believe in. I’m excited about what we have planned and will be doing.
Nonetheless, this also came with challenges.
I’m not taking a salary at the moment, and I’m taking the next nine months off from paid work to focus on this. I’m in a fortunate position where I can rely on my savings and dividends from TCG for the time being, but it’s still a new feeling to be “financially unemployed. “
Furthermore, being back in the startup stage can, at moments, feel really alienating and lonely. While building a community online is excellent, the day-to-day can become slightly lonely. The lack of peers in the workplace and the unique challenges that friends cannot relate to in casual conversation can really take a toll on you.
Lastly, launching a new product, introducing a new category, and educating the consumer on the benefits of the product is hard. Like, really hard. There are days when the highs are incredible, where the feedback you get from happy customers is a driving force of motivation, and you feel like you can conquer the world.
Then there are days where nothing seems to be working, where you bounce from closed door to closed door, and it just gets exhausting. These ups and downs are normal at every job but are ever so much stronger when it’s something you believe and identify with. The uncertainty of when you can pay yourself when that “break-through” moment comes where the tides will change, can be taxing.

Walking away from the stability and comfort zone is hard, scary, and uncertain.

But it’s the best decision you can make.

Even now, if you ask me whether I regret my choice, whether it’s all worth it, and if I’d do it again, the answer is simple: I love what we do and can finally be proud of it. I am happy where I am, I am confident in the product and the brand, and I cannot wait to share all of this with you.

Now, however, I have to close my laptop, put on my project management hat, and somehow resolve the next: “Julian, we have a problem.“““

With love from (surprisingly cold) Cyprus,


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