Let’s be honest. Startups suck.

Every day, you put yourself and your ideas out there and get shot down.

If you’re bad at it, you get shot down again and again until you finally give up. If you’re good at it, you get shot down again and again until you get to something that works. Fundamentally, they’re not that different.

Now you have something that sparks interest and even excitement. Time to sell it. Repeat above.

Now you have one customer and need to get your next five. Repeat above.

Now you have five customers and need to hire someone to help. Repeat above.

Now you have ten customers and want go full time but you need to raise some money. You go to your friends, your family, people you respect, and basically anyone who answers your emails. Repeat above.

Now you have money and time but not enough time. You need to hire a few people who get what you’re doing and willing to give up their existing jobs and projects. Repeat above.

Now you have a team coming together and twenty customers paying their bills on time. Even better, you see patterns among prospects who buy and have theories on how to get your next thirty customers. Repeat above.

Now you have fifty customers and things are rolling. Hopefully, you’ve been hiring good people and helped them get productive and managed cashflow and found an office and figured out how to fill your funnel and how to close customers and how to keep customers from churning and and and.. Repeat above.

No matter what, there will always be another explosion challenge opportunity to address. But at every step of the way, we have wins. We have that brief shining moment where everything came together and you looked at your screen, your partner, your team, or your customer and you smiled.

When you have one of those moments, stop and appreciate it.

Crack open a beer. Stop and high five your team. Take them out to dinner or better send them home with a gift card so they can go out to dinner with other people.

In startups at every stage of every size in every industry, the wins are few and far between. If we don’t stop and acknowledge them and thank the people who got us there, we will be buried under the losses. The disappointment and frustration will burn us out, our teams will feel unappreciated, and our families will forget what we look like. You can fail while being successful.

Stop and celebrate the win. Then get back to work.

3 thoughts on “Let’s be honest. Startups suck.

  1. There are certainly aspects of startups that suck: hustle-porn, stress, uncertainty but there are just as many aspects (I would argue more) terrible things about large companies.

    I would never work for a large company for a long period again. I love seeing into most aspects of operations and having direct impact on them. I also really enjoy the pace of startups.

    1. I agree, there always are multiple perspectives. I can’t imagine working for a tech giant.

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