Compared to running a startup, being chief financial officer of Citigroup or president of the Bank of America’s wealth management division is a “breeze.”
That’s according to Sallie Krawcheck, one of the most recognisable women on Wall Street, who held both of those positions.
Kracheck was one of the highest paid women on Wall Street when she was still an executive at Citigroup. In 2006, she reaped in $10.6 million, becoming 2007’s 12th most powerful woman in Fortune’s rankings. In 2010, Krawcheck pulled in $6.2 million at Bank of America.
“Entrepreneurialism isn’t for everybody”
Running Ellevate was a huge shock for the Wall Street veteran, in part because small firms are so dependent on each individual employee.
“If everybody doesn’t show up for work, fully show up for work every day, the business doesn’t get done,” she said.
For example if the website crashes:
“When you’re running Merrill Lynch, there are people who are all over this. When you’ve got a small company there’s a guy. And, by the way, telling the guy to work faster doesn’t particularly work very well,” she said.
And then there’s the sleep schedule. Krawcheck said she used to sleep through the night when she worked at the big banks.
“When you’re an entrepreneur and you start off, you have five people working for you…. I didn’t sleep in the first couple of years as an entrepreneur, I would wake up at 3:30 in the morning and just iterate through this problem, this challenge, this issue,” she told Bloomberg’s Liu.
Aside from the lack of sleep, the early days of her venture were also a roller coaster. Some days, Krawcheck had trouble balancing the books. Other days, she’d feel terrific.
“You have to tell people, entrepreneurialism isn’t for everybody,” she said. “You have to have the mental and physical fortitude for this stuff, and everyone doesn’t have it.
Thinking back on her life on Wall Street, she thought, “What a breeze, I ran these big important businesses.”