Entrepreneur Beginners Guide
“You Know Your Worth”
Self-worth comes from one thing—thinking that you are worthy. -Wayne Dyer, self-help author, motivational speaker
John looked me square in the eyes and with a stern face and faint whisper shared a disturbing secret. His revelation threw me for a loop. He warned, “They hire and pay very well the computer science majors who go to Georgia Tech. All the interns from other schools are paid lower wages and given lower positions. Many of them are just happy to be here, so they work for free or take crumbs. Don’t let that happen to you. Make sure they pay you what you’re worth.” John was a veteran intern with the company and a senior at Georgia Tech. His information was precise. When I was offered the job, I took his advice and negotiated a good salary. John and I would become good friends.
About a year earlier at another internship in Boston, my mentor told me to avoid taking entry-level jobs if I knew I could do more challenging work. Specifically, he admonished me, saying, “What-ever you do, don’t take a QA job. You are good enough to be a software developer. If you start at the QA level, you’ll be typecast, and it will take you longer to move up the ranks to developer.” QA stands for Quality Assurance and describes the job of those who test the programs that developers write. QAs would much rather write code than test it. I was a freshman when I received this ad-vice. It was my first exposure to the absurdity of the caste system in many large technology companies.
I eventually left the job that John helped me get in Atlanta. Corporate politics and egos began to inhibit my growth, and I was not willing to wait around until things improved. I also became frustrated working for someone who made multiple times as much as I did. I knew that my talents were worth more than any company was willing to pay me. A few months after I left the job, I founded my company.
What does this have to do with being an entrepreneur? If you are currently still working, it means everything. So many potential entrepreneurs don’t know their worth. They are paralyzed by their comfort, unwilling to maximize their true potential. If only they would wake up and realize that their salary is only a fraction of what they could earn as entrepreneurs. Fortunately, I woke up early.
Once you have taken the leap to become an entrepreneur and you have been in business for a while, knowing your worth takes on another meaning. At this point, it’s not about your worth necessarily; it’s about your company’s worth. There is no better example of someone who understood his company’s worth than Mark Zuckerberg, cofounder and CEO of Facebook.
Mark Zuckcrberg’s company had several opportunities to be acquired once it really began to grow. For example, Viacom offered $75 million to buy the entire company in 2005. It wanted to combine The facebook, as it was called then, with MTV.com. As chronicled in David Kirkpatrick’s book The Facebook Effect, “If Zuckerberg accepted such an offer, he would have put about $35 million in his pocket for a year’s work. But that didn’t matter to him.” Most of us would have taken the offer. Zuckerberg thought his company would be a billion-dollar company someday. Seven years later, Facebook’s valuation was estimated to be $75 billion right before it went public. Yes, that’s billion with a “b.”
Whether you are contemplating leaving your job or entertaining offers for the purchase of your company, it takes guts to hold your ground to get what you believe you or your company is worth. You have to understand that things do not always work in your favor, but when they do, it’s all worth it. Don’t take it from me. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg.