3+1: My Criteria for Employment

After an incredibly fulfilling year as President of Impact, I returned home to Vancouver in December to plan out the next stage of my life. Having been surrounded by entrepreneurship almost non-stop for the past four years, I knew (and still know) that entrepreneurship and starting my own venture was the eventual goal. However, without having put any effort into that hypothetical startup before my term with Impact ended, I decided that the best option for the time being would be to join an existing startup in Vancouver.

I was able to find a great job in early January and some four months later, I am deeply engrossed in my work at Indochino, an online custom clothing company that is disrupting the way that men buy suits. I’ve been very open with my employer and colleagues that my ultimate goal is to run a startup of my own in the not too distant future.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I “justify” to myself working in an entrepreneurial environment for a very entrepreneurial startup as opposed to founding my own startup. Here are the 3+1 reasons that I ended up settling on:

1. Great People – I am a firm believer that in order to achieve success, you need to be surrounded by great people. I want to be constantly around people that are smarter than me, have more experience than me, are willing to share their knowledge, bring different skills/viewpoints/perspectives, and most importantly, are enjoyable to work with.

2. Always Learning – I want to be learning every single day. If I’m not being challenged and pushed beyond my limits then I’m not doing a good job of training myself for my entrepreneurial journey. I want to work for a company that allows me tackle the problems of my choosing and execute on them. I should be given every opportunity for personal development, mentorship, and learning.

3. Creating Value – I need to believe that the company that I work for is creating a real value for its customers and is somehow making people’s lives easier or better. Revenue or profit can often be a poor indicator of value and I do think it is important to have confidence in the product or service that the company is producing. I want to work for a company that can agree with this powerful statement: http://www.mikekarnj.com/blog/2011/05/15/stop-building-apps-and-start-disrupting-industries/.


1. Compensation – The reason why I separate this point from the three above is because I am far more lenient about it (at least at this stage of my life). People, Learning, and Value are fundamental beliefs that are absolutely mandatory, but I am willing to sacrifice some compensation in exchange for great fulfillment in the first three priorities.  I suspect that as I continue to be employed, the focus of compensation will shift from the straightforward salary/benefits/equity to more of an analysis on the opportunity cost of launching my venture as opposed to continuing my startup employment.

There you have it – you now know the 3+1 criteria that satisfies my employment in a startup and subdues my long-term desire to start my own business.  I’m interested if other entrepreneurially-minded employees have similar or different objectives for their jobs. What would you say is your personal employment criteria?