7 Tips to Quit Your Job and Become an Entrepreneur

by Robert John Stevens, June 20, 2016

  1. Only work with totally honest and highly ethical co-founders to avoid costly legal fees, broken promises, failed dreams and a great deal of stress. Discuss how you all will behave given a variety of unforeseen situations. Write it all down and have each co-founder sign every page.

  2. Experience the pain or need yourself—If you have your chances of success will be much higher especially if you are committed to solving the problem so nobody else will feel the pain as you did, and to provide a simple, elegant solution.

  3. Work with an entrepreneur who has succeeded. Learn all you can from him or her. Startups require a very different mentality than working for corporations.

  4. Choose something that enhances your skills to set you apart from the masses should you need to bail and get a job.

  5. Plan to spend most of your time doing tasks outside of your core skill set. The first thing I discovered after resigning from my cushy programming job at WordPerfect and building WriteExpress was that I had relied upon teammates.

    Without their help I had to learn to program software installations, write documentation and sales copy, build websites, create and test release candidates, replicate CDs, design retail boxes and CD faces, manage my online store, create shareware versions, design, test and manage online advertisement, work with partners, sell, listen to customers, support customers, ship product and more.

    Over time I lost interest in running an online store. I prefer a low-maintenance, scalable, re-occurring income model.

  6. Make sure you have sufficient money to focus. This doesn’t mean you need a competitive or high salary—just enough so you and your family do not stress.

    If no salary is offered, give yourself a set amount of time to succeed and don’t go over without future income. You may decide to burn through so much of your own funds for a given time and then some more to find a job should you need to bail. When I co-founded WriteExpress.com I had WordPerfect stock options, some other stocks and savings. Decide up front how much money you may lose.

    Get yourself out of debt and reduce your monthly expenditures. Now may be the perfect time to sell a home or assets into strength. Rent if it saves you money and frees up cash.

  7. Plan to get a job before you run out of money—you will have a great start on your new business and can finish it part time. Bankruptcies, foreclosures, short sales, and divorces happen when entrepreneurs gamble.

  8. Get something into your customer’s hands ASAP. They will help you perfect it.

More Tips

Commit to eating healthy, going to bed early, rising early, exercising daily, maintaining your spirituality, and working somewhere where you can focus. Failure in any one of these will cost you.

Most importantly don’t ever ignore your children. Whenever they request your attention stop whatever you are doing and give them your full attention. It is sometimes difficult to do so you must decide ahead of time to do it. Failure to do so may likely result in wayward children.

No startup success will compensate for failure at home. No sane person on their deathbed who has wayward children wishes they made more money in life.

Comments on “WordPerfect led the PC word processing market for almost 10 years”

by Robert John Stevens, December 9, 2015

I have a great interest in this KSL article, Utah inventions: WordPerfect led the PC word processing market for almost 10 years, because I was fortunate to be a member of WordPerfect’s leading programming teams for eight years.

At the first and only WordPerfect reunion a few years ago André Peterson, who is now deceased, told me WordPerfect was the world’s best selling software and #1 on the charts for six straight years, even outselling Microsoft DOS. His memory was probably credible since he was in charge of all the trade shows where he actively disseminated such good news to customers.

I can’t imagine any programming job better than the one I had at WordPerfect during its glory days. Every workday was a thrill. We were all bright and young in our twenties and early thirties.

On the very day in May of 1990 when Microsoft Windows 3.0 released, along with the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, my team which was developing the WYSIWYG version of WordPerfect 5.1 for OS/2 became the Windows WordPerfect development team.

Within about 12-14 weeks we ported over our beta code to work on Windows but unfortunately, due to feature creep such as manager Eric Meyer’s insistence of implementing sculptured dialogs that appeared to look three dimensional (even though Word had only 2D dialogs), macros because as Eric told me our DOS WordPerfect users expected them (even though Word did not have macros), and developing a component (COM) version of our File Open, File Save and File Save As dialogs and integrating into them our QuickFinder search engine (another feature not found in Word), we added months of work and delayed the release of WordPerfect 5.1 for Windows until November 1991.

Previously I was on the team that ported the DOS version of WordPerfect 5.0 to OS/2 (a text-based word processor). If I remember correctly our team grew from an original six to twelve people by its release.

I also programmed on the OS/2 Shared Code team for WordPerfect 5.1 where I broke the Thesaurus and Speller out of WordPerfect, and developed the first Writing Tools API so Speller, Thesaurus, Rhymer and later Grammatik could exist independently and be used stand alone, but communicate with their host programs such as GroupWise and WordPerfect Presentation.

Deceased programmer and friend Steven M. Cannon took over the Windows Speller before I finished so I could focus on the Thesaurus for Windows where I invented and implemented three scrolling list boxes that shifted horizontally but left highlights and a hand icon as breadcrumbs marking previous words that had been looked up. Apple later used my interface or invented their own for the Mac OS X Finder.

After our programmers began to work on WordPerfect 6.0, I remained behind and with two other programmers fixed thousands of bugs and released the maintenance versions of WordPerfect 5.1 and later WordPerfect 5.2 for Windows (where I invented and first implemented Incremental Search). Despite the negative press for the buggy release of WordPerfect 5.1 for Windows, the press applauded 5.2 and by then we recouped about 33-36% market share for word processing.

Incremental Search is the most successful and most widely used technology to emerge from WordPerfect. It has become ubiquitous and used by billions of people every day.

Management began to lay employees off in 1994 and work became very stressful not knowing as without any notice fired employees were escorted out by security guards. After reading an article that recommended employees resign early to avoid the stress of a declining company, I resigned that month and took a severance which I used to develop Easy Letters and co-found WriteExpress Corporation with Dr. Melvin J. Luthy, a Linguistic Professor at BYU.

In May of 1995 Eric Meyers called and asked that I return to work at WordPerfect. I accepted his offer on condition Novell would give me the rights to Rhymer. They agreed and I began work on the Perfect Office integration team. I was there only a short time and then returned to the Shared Code team where I continued fixing bugs other programmers made in WordPerfect 6.0 for Windows and in the Perfect Office Installation software, until I resigned again in December of 1995 during another massive layoff, ironically receiving a second full benefits package for my eight years of employment.

Read the KSL article at Utah inventions: WordPerfect led the PC word processing market for almost 10 years.