I'm currently at a crossroads in my professional life and would like to have the forum weigh in on this.

I have very recently finished my military service and have been pretty much doing software development through the entire service so I don't have much sense in how things are going in the 'civilian' industry.

I have approached an angel investor with an idea I have for a product and we've been pushing the whole deal forward, it seems he's interested and very confident of me. As part of our research and meeting people we've met with a person who's a CEO of a small-medium start-up who I trust a lot. During the meeting my idea of the product has been dismissed by him and he suggested taking the idea to a different direction (this is fine by me as I agree with the points he has brought up). I have some doubts about the new direction of the idea and whether it can be effective and attractive for people.

So this means that if all goes well, in the case that I get the investment and open a start-up company I will most likely be the CEO and the company will have about 3-4 people.

On the other side I have signed a contract (about 3 months ago) to start working at a different company where I can learn much, both in the professional and managerial spectrums. I will have to pass on this job if I decide to continue and open a start-up.

Most of the people I've approached for advice have expressed some sort of concern of my lack of management experience (I'm 23) and have advised me to start working first and gain some experience of how things work in the civilian industry. On the other hand, I've always believed in just getting into things and learning as I go so this is difficult for me to accept.

Should I pass on this opportunity and wait till I've gathered some more experience? Does managing a small start-up company require any hard to acquire skills?

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    This isn't a forum, it's a question and answer site. And this is primarily an opinion based question, which is off topic. – Herb Feb 12 '17 at 17:37
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    This is probably six questions. Ask them one at a time. "How important is management experience for someone with an idea for a startup?" "How many startups use angel investors, and what are the advantages and disadvantages?" "Is it feasible to work on my startup idea while employed fulltime?" "What skills do you need to run a startup that you don't get from employment?" "How do I know if I'm ready to leave a job for a startup?" And so on. Don't ask us to solve your problem. Come up with questions that add up to your problem, each of which is answerable by the terms of this site. – Kate Gregory Feb 12 '17 at 17:46
  • Did you not have any leadership responsibility when you were in the military? Or is this specifically a lack of business management experience? The easy thing to do is hire in a business manager to run that side of the shop while you work on the vision and with the people you hire. – HorusKol Feb 13 '17 at 1:49
  • Just a quick point: One of your early hires could be a manager... Also , in the US be sure to investigate resources like SCORE, which put you in touch with experienced folks willing to offer advice. – keshlam Feb 14 '17 at 1:20

I've always believed in just getting into things and learning as I go...

Should I pass on this opportunity and wait till I've gathered some more experience?

If you've got an opportunity, and you believe in just jumping in, then there doesn't seem to be any reason to hesitate. The worst that can happen is that you fail, and have to start over again. Many new entrepreneurs fail at least once.

I'm assuming that you are in a position financially to fail. Thus, nobody is depending on your salary for their livelihood except you (no spouse, no children, no other dependents). If that's not the case, then you have a more difficult decision, and perhaps need to get others involved in making that decision.

Does managing a small start-up company require any hard to acquire skills?


Managing is hard. Managing within a start-up is harder. Running your own start-up is harder still.

(And that doesn't include the myriad non-management skills you'll need - sales, marketing, raising capital, hiring, networking skills, product skills, technical skills, customer skills, etc, etc.)

Some people manage to learn as they go, but others need to bring in help. Think long and hard about the skills you need in your company that can complement yours as you fill out your team. Perhaps you want to bring in a partner with management experience, or perhaps your angel investor can help provide a mentor for you.

The product idea is often the catalyst, but in the end may be one of the least important parts. As they say "Everyone has an idea. But few can turn an idea into a business."


The military is supposed to teach you self-confidence amongst other things. Either you start up confident in yourself and back your self to succeed and then have a good chance of doing so. Or you go in half-heartedly expecting to fail, and you'll have a much harder time of it.

Managing skills can be acquired as you go, self-confidence needs to be there beforehand. You're the CEO, no one is going to sack you if you make a mistake, and a 5 man team isn't that hard to manage.


Should I pass on this opportunity and wait till I've gathered some more experience?

No, definitely not. You must take this opportunity and run with it. You may never get another one.

Does managing a small start-up company require any hard to acquire skills?

So what if it does. (And no it does not). Just expect to be the first in, the last to leave, to work the hardest, to be the rock everyone leans on, and you will be fine.

When you do run up against something you do not know how to handle, make it your job to learn about it, to find external advice, and to never take short cuts. The buck stops with you.

Good luck, it will be a fun journey.

Best wishes,


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    Hey, if it all goes wrong, you can always get a 'normal' job anytime you like. That's not actually true. Employers are very skeptical about considering a failed business as work experience. So you'll be treated as a zero-experience bozo and probably passed over due to ageism and other issues. – DepressedDaniel Feb 13 '17 at 3:20
  • Hmm. You may well be right. Have edited out that part since it seems to have caused some discontent. I would stick to my answer though that he should go for it. And that opportunities like this can be rarer than you might think when the first one lands in your lap. – PaulD Feb 19 '17 at 16:47

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