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Thursday, August 10, 2006
You are Not the Only One Suffering
You are Not the Only One Suffering
Alright fellow entrepreneurs, it has time for some tough love. I know you have mortgaged the house to make payroll. I know you have quit your high-paying executive job to work for nothing. And I know its taken far longer for this big idea of yours to ever make a penny.
But you are not the only one who's suffered to start a company so you had better get used to it.
Show me a successful entrepreneur and I will show you an entrepreneur giving blood, sweat and tears to make their company a success. Starting a successful company is not a picnic. Its incredibly hard and emotionally draining. While everyone else will probably try to convince you that its going to pour down golden raindrops tomorrow, I am going to provide a slightly more pragmatic forecast.
It will probably get worse
The truth is it will probably get a lot worse before it gets any better. If you think this is the last time you are going to have to withdraw from your home equity line of credit you are mistaken. You are going to make far more sacrifices in the time ahead than you probably realize.
Those sacrifices are going to involve financial insecurity, tortured and broken relationships, and massive amounts of personal time that you will never regain. People are going to talk behind your back and undermine you. Customers are going to drop you. Investors are going to stop returning your phone calls.
Its going to suck some more.
Theres no light at the end of the tunnel
If you are waiting for me to tell you not to worry, that you all see a light at the end of the tunnel, I'm afraid its not going to happen. I've started nine companies - some of them were very successful and some of them flopped in record time. The only consistency among them was that I couldnt see whether they were going to be wildly successful or complete failures until they had already taken off or had gone under.If you have never experienced this for yourself and have some grand delusions that successful entrepreneurs know exactly when they are going to be successful, forget about it. No one has a clue.
Running a startup company is like paddling your lifeboat to shore in complete darkness. You don't know whether you are going to be saved until you actually hit land, and even then you keep paddling for fear you might be cast off to see once more.
You probably want to hear that the hardship will end soon and that your ship will be saved. In fact that might be the case, but you won't know it until it happens. And until then you need to paddle like mad. Dont expect to know when you will be successful because no one ever does.
You are on the right track
By this point you are probably thinking this guy is selling me fire and brimstone when all I wanted was a little motivational speech! So here is the motivational speech: you are probably on the right track. If it feels like the world is collapsing around you and every decision you have made is the wrong one, then you are in the same situation that every successful entrepreneur has been in before they became a success. Everyone lived in a world of constant stress and self-doubt before their world eventually turned into expensive cars and vacation homes.
Your world is no different.
There is no clear cut path to ensuring that all of your decisions are the right ones. We are all out there trying to do everything possible to make the right decisions and make up for the wrong ones. All of those emotions and doubts you are losing sleep over isnt a sign that everything is wrong, its a sign that you are building a startup company.
You can always go back
If you want a stress-free road to making money without having to endure all of these hardships, go work for a big company. Take comfort in your 10% annual raises and 9-to-5 clock-punching lifestyle. Sip coffee on your many breaks and talk about all of the free time you had this weekend.
And when the Founder of the company passes you on the way to the office in his new Ferrari, remember that he paid for it in all of the miseries that you gave up. Everything is a trade-off, and you need to determine whether what you are giving up right now is worth what you plan on getting when it all becomes golden.
Never give up
It's easy to get distracted by all of the stress and emotions you are probably feeling right now. We all do. The only thing you can do to manage the process is to never give up. No matter what gets thrown at you, keep your feet moving. It's a massive uphill battle for all of us. The ones that make it never, ever give up the fight.