What it’s really like to leave PwC to grow a startup

What it’s really like to leave PwC to grow a startup


It’s been almost 2 months since I left PwC to grow my startup and boy has the time flown by – it feels like a bit of a blur with things about to go to a whole new level – the missus and I are hoping to welcome baby #2 into our lives in the next week or so!

In my previous article on the things I’ve learnt since leaving PwC (click here), I mentioned that I was inundated with messages from people all over the world. Lots of them were very inspired by my story of leaving the corporate world to grow a startup, whilst also juggling a family. There was also lots of interest in the simple, easy to apply process I’ve developed that helps people find their passion rapidly – so much so that my website ended up crashing from the sheer volume of traffic!

As I was riding the entrepreneurship roller coaster I started to wonder to myself, how come I hadn’t heard of any of this earlier. Not that it would have made things easier, instead perhaps I might have been a bit more prepared for what was about to come my way. Come to think of it, I read pretty voraciously and find it surprising that I hadn’t come across stories of what it’s really like to transition out of corporate life into a startup.

And so here are my reflections through the lens of some of the things that I:

a) miss about the corporate world, and

b) enjoy about entrepreneurship..

Miss #1: Being accountable to someone else

In the last few months of my career at PwC I had dropped to 3 days work per week to look after our toddler and care for my wife. PwC were great and gave me all the flexibility that I needed. I on the other hand felt compelled to go into the office, at least a few times a week. Let me be clear – no one compelled me, in fact my old team encouraged me to work from home. However I just felt that I was being paid a sum of money and I ought to show up.

I think it was because I felt accountable to my employers and therefore had to justify my wage. Now that I’m on my own, I am no longer accountable to anyone…and weirdly there are parts of this I do miss. And so it’s been quite interesting to observe myself –

I notice there are some strange things I prioritise over others. For example my family comes number 1, which I think does for most of us. I however have a tendency of taking things to the next level and hold this weird belief that the environment has to be conducive for my family to excel. Let me explain –

Around the house I would sort out the kitchen, do the laundry then clean up the house. This is so my family has a neat and clean space to operate. After all this sorting out I’d then get ready to sit down and focus on Workspired. At that point in time I’d be so physically drained I’d find it a struggle to get anything done!

Don’t get me wrong, having a neat and clean home is important, not just from a hygiene perspective but basic livability. However, I probably don’t need to take things to the level that I have been where I have been known to put the same set of toys away 5 times in a day!

And so as weird as it sounds being accountable to someone else actually helps me focus less on frivolous activities, and more one the important things.

Enjoy #1: Ability to really do what I want when I want

The flip of missing being accountable to someone else is when my family was ill, I had the flexibility to structure my business around them. With a global client base I could have calls into the night when the family was asleep. I could also block time in my calendar during the day when I needed to tend to the toddler and/or my wife.

Let me be clear – my clients needs were (and always will be) extremely important. And so what I did was prioritise any interactions with them during the day and then at nights or early mornings I would get my solitary work done.

If I was working in the corporate world this would have been a bit more challenging. Whilst organisations have made great strides in introducing policies around flexibility in the workplace there are still challenges with this. In the consulting world, when you have clients investing a lot of money they have understandably high expectations. Despite being sympathetic to any challenges you might have, they need their business problems solved. And so whilst there is flexibility, my experience has been that it is limited, particularly if you have to engage with a diverse group of stakeholders who mainly work between the hours of 8.30am and 6pm.

Being able to do what I want, when I want has been a blessing particularly in the haze of illness.

Miss #2: The power of the brand

Never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate one of the biggest things I’d miss about PwC would be the brand. Sure I knew I’d miss constantly being around motivated and highly intelligent people. But I truly underestimated the power of the brand.

When you work for a firm like PwC, there isn’t an executive in the corporate world that you couldn’t get time with. By virtue of being a part of the largest professional services firm in the world, you would get your foot in the door and then it’s on you to demonstrate value. But getting your foot in the door is priceless – and the power of the brand unlocks this critical piece.

Whilst I might have a fantastic service that truly helps people find and pursue their passion, Workspired is still a baby in comparison to an organisation like PwC. Most of you reading this are probably hearing it for the first time and have little expectations or perceptions of what it can do for your career.

On the contrary, when I say Apple or Amazon you instantly have (hopefully positive) thoughts flood your mind around their product quality, innovation or speed of delivery. That is the power of the brand and something I am building towards each and every single day.

Enjoy #2: Making a difference in people’s lives

In the past few months I’ve received numerous e-mails from people conveying heartfelt thanks that a brief conversation with me changed their perspective.

One lady who I spoke with from NYC is a fairly senior professional in a big 4 professional services firm. We had a great chat and the next day she sent me a lovely e-mail letting me know that she woke up with a different outlook on her career and life. She recognised that she’s actually in a really good position and she had a profound realisation – she can choose how she feels. She was going to take this newfound perspective and identify what put her in a state of flow at work to find even more happiness.

E-mails or messages from people like her are the reason why I do what I do. To make a difference in another person’s life has got to be one of the most fulfilling things we can achieve as a human being.

I must say in just the last 2 months I have probably had more of an impact on other people’s lives than my entire 10+ year corporate career.

By |2018-01-02T11:41:32+11:00November 12th, 2017|Passion, Purpose, Work|0 Comments