Reward Outweighing Risk – My First Year at a Start-Up

As I come to my almost one year anniversary at Talavant, I look back and first think about how fast the past year went! But then I also think about my initial thoughts when joining a startup, and how I would encourage everyone to take the leap of faith. This post talks about me transitioning away from corporate America and what my first year at Talavant felt like, enjoy!

Rewind about a year ago and how this journey all began… I was first introduced to Talavant in early January of 2015, by Co-Founder Rob Long. We had partnered together in the past, and he wanted to introduce me to Dave DuVarney (his business partner & President) to tell me all about what they had going on at Talavant. Initially, the concept of the company sounded very intriguing, knowing the dire need for Business Intelligence consultants in the area, and I also liked the way they were positioning themselves to do business long term. That said, I assumed Sales/Marketing would be one of the last areas where they would invest in, as they already had a string of steady clients. Also, at the time, I was gainfully employed and not really looking to make a move.

Fast forward about two months later, Dave had asked me to coffee again and very unexpectedly offered me a career with Talavant. While I was very flattered by the offer, I was in no way looking to move careers, and was busy working my way up the corporate ladder at my previous company – a successful Fortune 500 Staffing Firm. Once the flattery wore off, I was very concerned with this whole “start-up” approach. Essentially, the role was for me to come in, help build their network of clients, and create a marketing plan from scratch, with a little budget, no database full of clients, and no sales support… just me.

Ironically, I was offered this opportunity right before a week’s vacation. This allowed me to step away from my current job, and really weigh out the pros and cons. For those of you who have already made the jump to a start-up, you know exactly what I am talking about. The idea of being the first employee, and building something from the ground up sounded amazing… but the idea of my current career, set of clients and team was not something I was willing just to give up either. Something you should know about me as well, is that I am not a very big risk taker. I like to follow the rules, do what I am told, and go on my merry way. To some, this may just be a career change, and a no brainer… for me it was an unknown risk, and not knowing what my future had in store made me very uneasy.

After talking about it until I was literally blue in the face, to family, friends and everyone in between, I met Dave for dinner after my vacation and we talked final details. It was then at dinner, that although I had not officially accepted, something about our conversation just told me I had to do it. I would regret it if I didn’t, and opportunities like this absolutely do not come around all of the time. Within 48 hours, I had put in my two weeks at my previous company, and I was ready and excited to start a completely new adventure.

I write this post, as I look back on the past year, wanting to encourage people to take that leap of faith. Especially for those non-risk takers like myself, it can be very scary, but trust me, it can be even more rewarding. When I look at the company now, we have 7 full time employees and 1 part time… and continue to grow! We have already outgrown our original office space and continue to prospect new talent, in fear that we are going to have too much work and not enough people to do it, (a great problem to have by the way). Being able to be a part of something that is so much bigger than two owners and myself, from when I first started, is honestly one of the most exciting and gratifying things, especially when it comes to your career. If someone has given you the opportunity, and it is something you have always entertained but never really took the leap, go for it! Especially in the world of IT Start-Ups, it is a very exciting time, and if you believe in the company and organization, and you have the drive and motivation to help it grow the reward will definitely always out weigh the risk.