Friday, August 5, 2016
Caution: Startup Ahead™
Putting aside for the moment what something is worth, my first thought about the offer was that it was like reading about smallpox, vs. actually having smallpox.
Is it an exaggeration to compare doing a startup to having smallpox? Tough to find someone who has done both to test that hypothesis. I've done a few startups, and actually doing it is a lot different than reading about doing it.
There are severe physical and emotional experiences that will accompany virtually all startups. I could go into a long list, but it would be depressing.
Most startup people have heard that the odds of success in a startup are very dim, but logic escapes them and they have an entrepreneurial spasm that causes years of frustration and stress. If they are lucky. And if they are like most startup people, they will crash and burn after wiping out their savings and a few friends and family members' investments as well. They will be burnt out shells of their former selves and reduced to working for a living like the rest of the burned out shells who who have been crushed by reality.
That's the downside. There is an upside, of course, but it is like Shangri-La, a place we have heard of, but precious few have entered such a place. The lucky few usually move out of the neighborhood and we never see them again.
One way I like to think positively about doing a startup is that's it's like a small boy's ambivalence with wanting to pet a big dog, but at the same time, the dog is bigger than he is, so there is some primal fear offsetting the big fluffy huggability.
Another way is the ambivalence of wanting to look under the bed to be sure there is no monster under there, and the very fearful possibility he may come face to face with the monster.
This fear of the unknown is what keeps us alive, and it sure keeps a lot of people from actually doing a startup. It is that great unknown gulf between Knowing and Doing. Once set sail from the safe port of Knowing, it is a dark and turbulent sea of Doing. We can wander there eternally if we survive at all.
If set sail we must on such a sea, we will be best served by knowing why we are doing this, and where we are going, how long we expect to be gone, what supplies we need... you know, like a business plan!
Stay tuned for more on that later.
This is the first of the 10 Principles for Managing a Young, Growing Business and the absolute first thing to be done before doing what Elon Musk describes as "eating glass and staring into the abyss of Death". He was being only slightly more dark than Reid Hoffman's description as "like jumping off a cliff and assembling a plane on the way down."
Are you ready to leap into the pit where few have survived, and the few who have are quite disinclined to return?
If that's what you are committed to doing, after all the warnings, then we should talk...