What Kind Of (Career) Investor Are You?

Some people like the steady predictable life of working for a large or established company.

Some people like the unpredictability and opportunities presented by a smaller or fast growth company.

Some people like starting their own business.

We all make a career investment decision. We are making a risk / reward calculation. The more risk we take on, the higher the potential reward. The more we invest, the more reward we can reap.

I'm not just talking about financial reward, although that part is obvious; (steady salary and no ownership versus lower salary and stock options versus no salary and owning your own business).

The non-financial rewards can be about how much can you learn through new experiences and how much freedom you have.

Where do you fit? A, B or C?

A) Large or established company

  • Higher base salary
  • Slower pace of learning / progression
  • Less freedom to act
  • Lower risk
  • More support / training
  • Structured opportunities for progression
  • Low potential upside potential
  • Some work-life balance

B) Fast growth or early stage company as employee

  • Lower base salary
  • Fast pace of learning / progression
  • More freedom to act
  • Some risk
  • Very support / training
  • Huge unstructured potential for progression
  • Some potential financial upside
  • Less work-life balance

C) Startup founder

  • Very low base salary
  • Super fast pace of learning / progression
  • Lots of freedom to act
  • Lots of risk
  • No support / training
  • Progression is as big as the company you can create
  • Lots of potential financial upside
  • No work-life balance

Personally I've typically steered towards B.

Sure, this model is overly simplistic. There are people who will reap far greater rewards in A than C. Conversely there are people who will have a better work-life balance in C than A. These categories are just generalisations to make a point.

The point is, each of us choose to take on a degree of risk in our careers and hope to reap rewards accordingly. We're investing our time in varying degrees of intensity.

It's not unlike financial investment decisions. Hedge funds are on one end of the scale (C), bonds at the other (A).

I've invested my time and energy during my career to a variety of high growth businesses.

B Eurocamp - went public, became Holidaybreak PLC
B Simply Travel - acquired by Thomson Travel (TUI)
B Ifyouski.com (Venture backed) - acquired by Online Travel Corporation
B Online Travel Corporation - acquired by lastminute.com
B lastminute.com - still going
C Expedia - still going
B Bookatable (Venture backed) - continues to grow
B HouseTrip (Venture backed) - continues to grow
B IOVOX (Venture backed) - continues to grow

Every time I took a new job, I had to consider the returns I would potentially make in learning (and latterly), financially.

I'm please with the career investment decisions I've made to date. The portfolio to date is strong. Now I find myself at Forward Partners, I am evaluating companies that we might invest in.

One question one I ask myself is, "could I see myself working for this company?" If the answer is yes, it means I have faith in the leadership / founder, it means I believe in their vision and I think there's a good chance of them succeeding.

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