need some advice on where to go from here (career)

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This is something that I've been thinking about for a while and I would like to get some advice on how to best proceed from here.

My story:
I got laid off in November 2012. I hated the job and I was planning quit as soon as I find another job but this happened before I was able to land something. This is the first time something like this ever happened to me so it was a shock at first not having a job to go to anymore. I'm living off unemployment now and my one year's worth of savings. Prior to this, I had about 4 years total of solid work experience at a F500 then in the finance industry (where I got laid off). It was towards the end of the year with many companies worried about the fiscal cliff so hiring was slow. I interviewed for a couple of positions right away but didn't land anything. I took a break over the holiday season but before the new year hit I became obsessed with a web startup idea.

2013 started and I was in the process of getting a prototype of my idea developed. Fast forward 2 months and I've been spending my time between two things: studying for the GMAT while I have the free time and completing the prototype of the startup so that I can start to get some feedback. These two have kept me busy and I'm 200% happier now than when I was at my old job.

My concerns:
I'm at the point where I'm finally starting to get some feedback on what I've worked on for the past 2-3 months. I've asked 3 people so far (who bothered to respond) and the reviews have been mixed. 1 response was negative, 2 were semi/positive. This took a hit on my confidence in this idea. I still believe in it that if executed properly with some changes here and there it could work to resolve an existing problem but it's somewhat demoralizing because it makes you wonder if you're on the right track at all. I haven't asked anyone who really know the startup scene yet but I plan to apply to some accelerator programs. Other than this startup ending up being a big waste of effort, I'm also concerned about what would happen when I fast forward 2 months from now. Thinking pessimistically, let's assume that I do not get chosen for any startup accelerators and don't find any seed funding on my own to really get a legitimate shot at trying this. I would have a gap on my resume that is nearly 6 months long. What if I stay in this startup path for a year? I plan to cover this gap with this startup experience (have no choice at this point) but I'm only interested in trying to get back into the financial services industry. Unfortunately, this startup experience is not relevant at all to my prior role and the roles I'm targeting.
Any advice on how to go about in my current situation? I'll be glad to provide any other information so post any questions below.

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Just go with your regular alias, no need to make another one.

6 months gap is nothing now, no one would hold that against you. However, I would make some measurable target for your startup so you aren't mired in it forever if it doesn't pan out. As for GMAT, my opinion is that it's not as valued now as before but that all depend on what your objective is by getting a MBA or something similiar.

Good luck.

You might have more time to work on your start up than you think. Some states still have unemployment extensions so you can get unemployment for over a year! Good for you for doing something while unemployed and not just being lazy.

I don't think most employers would hold it against you if your first start up were to fail either, so you can say that's what you were doing during the gap. If you can explain what happened and demonstrate your knowledge, communication skills, and good attitude while doing so, they might be impressed. There are probably additional resources available for unemployed people who want to start a business too. Some of the Career Centers in Boston have workshops for that. Good luck!

Take the opinions of a couple of not-exactly-relevant people with a grain of salt. Many eventually-successful innovators were told by hundreds of people (even experts in the relevant industry) for years and years that their ideas were not good enough.

You have only been working at this idea for a few months. Many new-business ideas are years in development. Lots of people get knocked back repeatedly before succeeding.

There are so many hurdles to starting your own business/developing your own idea -- before investing a great deal of your time in it, you need to make sure you have the personality temperament to see it through, and the background knowledge of what this sort of process is usually like, especially for the unsung hundreds-of-thousands who don't get cover stories in Fast Company (or whatever).

Of course you can put this on your resume. Do not be worried that it will show you in a bad light. But you need to be dedicated to it and give it some oomph, or you may give out the impression in later traditional-job interviews that you didn't apply any stick-to-it-iveness or strategy to your idea.

Otherwise, if you get the feeling you'd better give up on your idea on the basis of a few casual critiques after working on it for just a couple of months, I wouldn't put this interlude on the resume -- just act like you've been job-searching and studying for the GMAT for the last few months - which is absolutely reasonable to say you've been doing.

By the way, I'm not saying you should stick to an idea just out of pride or stubbornness if you are privately getting a feeling that it wouldn't really fly and if the critiques you have sought have been insightful and really informative to you.

What little I have heard about start-up funding and that sort of thing is that very few initiatives are getting financial support now. It's not an easy time (I expect) for any organization to do this, even if everything is going great with their idea. So it may not be the right time for you to branch out into this sort of career, if it's not something that you feel you were born to do.

It wasn't a gap in your resume if put you were running a startup. Employers like creative risk takers.

wateristasty said:   It wasn't a gap in your resume if put you were running a startup. Employers like creative risk takers.

On the other hand, it might be that someone who only tries a new idea for a few months and who quits while still in the preparatory stages wouldn't be seen by potential employers as a "creative risk taker", but as a dabbler who may jump into projects without enough preparation and who may quit after hitting the first couple of speedbumps.

I'm not trying to be harsh on the OP, but I think it's "pie in the sky" thinking to assume that potential employers would consider gingerly dipping one's toe into the waters of entrepreneurship and whipping it out when the water is found to be a little chilly as meaning the person is a business dynamo.

If anything, this behavior suggests to me a lack of understanding about what is really involved in creating a startup and a low level of tolerance for risk and rejection.

(Which is not a bad thing, it's good for most folks to be prudent and steady in their careers. For those sorts of careers, most potential employers probably just want to see someone going after the straight-and-narrow sure-things when they are laid off, like thinking about going for further education.)

The original poster's screen name says it all - "Directionless".

It is absolutely understandable and human and wise to feel directionless and to admit it, but finding a new direction that one feels strongly about in the heart and head can be hard and can take a long time.

You can't magic up a new direction based on what a few other folks have done, especially if you choose the path of getting beyond the mountain by climbing straight up to the peak and down again (= making a new company from scratch and with no money or prior experience), rather than just walking around the mountain in the valley floor (= getting a normal job in a similar industry to your last one in order to keep your life ticking while you figure out what you really want to do, if what you really want to do ends up being different than the new job).

I'd include the start-up as part of your resume. As long as you can show that you indeed worked on your start-up, it'll explain any W2 gaps in your resume plus it shows that you didn't just sit around doing nothing while hoping for an employer to offer you a new job.
Regarding the start-up itself, a former co-worker spent over 2 years working on a software solution to a corporate problem. He was convinced he'd be able to sell his software app to many businesses facing said problem. He only stopped when he ran out of savings. Maybe the software was really good, but he couldn't find any paying customers in the end. What might appear to be an important problem that needs a solution to you, might not in reality be so important to your intended customers.

1) i've heard advice that a start up should not ask for funding until they have started to generate some revenue and profit. you may want to do your own research and confirm.
2) you can include your experience with the start up on your resume as it is real work (even if its unpaid). how you characterize it is something you want to consider. if you say you are ceo/president of the company then that can turn off potential employers. you may want to consider what title to give yourself. would consultant title work? you also need to quantify the business benefits and value you are adding to the business, which may be a challenge but employers want to know the value add in terms of numbers.
3) your prior employer could probably tell you hated your job and that may have led to being dismissed. its what some call stinking thinking. keep a positive attitude no matter what job you are pursuing and be grateful for the opportunity -- we control our attitudes and our thoughts

I see gaps as a HUGE red flag. So I would definitely put your start up as part of your resume. If I were interviewing you, I would grill the shit out of the idea and see if it was "serious." If it was a "serious" startup I would treat it as if it were a job, and to me it would be very favorable.

jkimcpa said:   I see gaps as a HUGE red flag. So I would definitely put your start up as part of your resume. If I were interviewing you, I would grill the shit out of the idea and see if it was "serious." If it was a "serious" startup I would treat it as if it were a job, and to me it would be very favorable.

I think it depends on the field to an extent. I think seeing a gap on a CPA's resume would be more worrisome than a similar gap on a construction foreman's, given the economic situation.

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