I think the startup world is scary. No one really has a clear picture of what it means to be an entrepreneur. What I thought would be, isn't what it is. There's a lot of over-glorification and over-horrification of the startup world, and that's because of the exaggeration the space naturally has.
Founders and CEOs of startups need to keep things going, constantly fight fire with fire and get any resource that they can get their hands on. I don't blame them for doing whatever it takes, it isn't fun to run a ship that constantly has a hole to plug. Running Aersure, sure isn't rainbows and sunshine. It's a lot of firefighting and learning new things everyday to solve problems daily. Like Ryan Serhant says, running a business and is all about getting FKD everyday.
This will by no means give you the answer to your unanswered questions, it's not supposed to be that. This is what I learnt running my startup, 6 months in.
1. You will fuck up
It's okay. You will make mistakes, no matter how good you are. You can be an industry veteran of 40 years, or a 20 something year old fresh graduate, you will fuck up something somewhere along the lines of running your startup. But, it's okay.
Everyone tells you this. It's not a new thing, What I learnt is not that I will probably fuck up and that it's okay, but it's the fact that you need to be accept your mistake. You can get over it, you can learn from it, but no one told you that you need to accept it. I made a big one when I started the company and I am still going through the consequences of the mistake, but I've only accepted my mistake in February of 2019, when the brunt of the consequence is showing its ugly head.
You need to learn to accept the mistakes you've made. I mean really accept the fact that you fucked up and the fact that the consequences will bite you in the ass and you best be ready for it, because you will never know to what extent it will come back on you, expect the worst.
Always think to the brink of your business, because you do not want to learn the full extent a consequence can go without being prepared. It is always thinking you might die tomorrow that you are able to not only push yourself but your business to its absolute limits.
Now don't do this every day. It will bloody murder you in your sleep. However, don't underestimate mistakes and never shrug them off. Accept it, and be prepared for winter.
2. You're hopeful; be hopeful smarter
It's never wrong to have hope. I think it's even good for you. It's healthy for you to have hope for a brighter and greener tomorrow. It's good to have a positive outlook on life and the things that are going on around you. However, you must know and realise the line where hope turns into your downfall.
Grass is always greener on the other side
Always remember that the grass will always be greener on the other side and that no matter how grim your situation is, you always can find a way, a new opportunity, a solution to your problems. Hoping sometimes makes you put all your eggs in one basket. This is not great for you. It is not great for any business either. Your hope will make you cling onto something, and no matter how experienced you are, at the end of the day, you might still be hung on the fact that that one deal will go through some day.
Stop. Stop waiting and move on.
Don't stop hoping, but please, for your own sake, move on while waiting.
I've hung my whole company on one big 'break' the one deal that will put us in a league above and beyond. However, what I failed to realise is that I've put aside all forms of business development and sales for the one lead.
Never bank on one client.
I know it's bad business. However, I let hope blind me, which ended in me getting blindsided.
3. What people say, matters
No. I don't mean the people around you. Who cares about what they say? I would never lose sleep over what people say about me or my company. So long as what they're saying isn't true and backed up with facts, don't spend a second worrying about it.
This is how much I care about what other people think:
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent – Eleanor Roosevelt
Here's what matters. What matters is what you think and say of yourself and of your business. The reason I say this is because over the course of what is 22.5 years of my existence, I learnt that apart from the most important people in your life (family, wife, doggo, close friends), everyone else are temporary. Most of the people you know now, you probably won't talk to 10 years down the line, or at least drift apart.
Mental health wise, it's always good to believe in yourself and be able to encourage and motivate yourself. You can't treat yourself like shit, because then you will become shit. Other people's opinion don't matter but your own; if people think you're shit and you turn into shit, I would've turned so many assholes into burgers and eat them all.
Seriously. Take care of your mental health today. You'll thank me 20 years down the line.
4. Money. Money. Money.
I'll keep this section brief. Want to know why? Because money, don't matter. Money is a tool of which the world requires as currency to make it go round. Money isn't the end of life, it isn't the bringer of death or the overlord of the universe. Money is simply a tool.
Really. Think way back. Cavemen trade goods for food, vice versa. Then some idiot decided to invent currency and some other idiot decided to create an economy. What the hell was wrong with trading a stone axe for fish?
Money is not important. Listen to Dorothée and she will tell you that money should be the least of your concern.
Whether it's you or your business, never let money control you. Because, it is when that happens, that is when you lose your business.
5. Your support system is crucial
Founders, entrepreneurs, everyone, please love yourself and find a support system that works for you. I don't mean a support group of mopping sadpreneurs who think slaving yourself will make you bucks, I mean a support system that you need to stay sane.
I'll tell you, there's been more than one occasion where I've nearly gone insane, where I've nearly called it quits. Being an entrepreneur is difficult, especially if your background is in consulting with zero regard for resources cause they were never really yours anyways.
There are times where I think, is it all worth it? Should I really pour my sweat, blood and tears into this? It's so bloody hard...
There is no failure except in no longer trying – Elbert Hubbard
Despite the challenging and painful experiences, I've pushed on. This is for a few reasons:
- My life goals, were aligned with the goals of my significant other
- She is always there to support me in whatever I did and didn't judge or stop me for doing what I think is right
- She keeps me sane; she checks me whenever I overwork myself or push too hard
- She keeps the work-life balance, a balance
- She's an extraordinary woman with a sharp sense and logic that catches my oversight
- She's my partner in crime
The list can go on. My support system, is my Girlfriend (this will be updated to wife when it happens. The text in this bracket will become an explanation that she was my Girlfriend as of writing this paragraph). She is what keeps me in check and makes sure I don't kill myself working.
When the going gets tough and the whole world is against me, she's the reason I stay sane.
Having a support system, even if its your doggo, it's healthy, it's normal and it's good for you. The journey of being an entrepreneur can be a lonely one.
Do it right, and do right by yourself. Stay well to be able to reap the benefits of your hard work.
What's your takeaway?
Whatever you want it to be. I wrote this not because I think these things would help you overcome struggles. Sure, if it does, I'm grateful and would love to hear your story! However, I wrote this because it serves not only a reflection, but it gives you an inside look of what it's like running a startup with 99 odds against you.
It's an insight to how I function and what I think the startup world should've told me.
So if you get anything out of this, I'd love to know. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org