The Startup Life
A startup. An entrepreneur. What does it all mean? It seems startups is as cool as smoking was in the 60's. I'm uncertain as to why this is the case. It's not cool nor glamourous. It's downright depressive. It's not for the weak at heart. It's not for those chasing fame or riches. It's simply for those crazy enough to think they can bring about change. It's for those who dare to do more than just dream.
The irony of all that I do is knowing that as a designer, I can get a job at the click of my finger - I'm not bragging, designers are just hot resource right now. I know because a part of what Hunie does is help companies connect with designers.
Fear of Failure as a Motivation
As it is now, I get no monthly cheque. I pay for the most basic health insurance that I can barely afford and rent is a challenge. Yet I spend my days chasing a dream. Luckily, the people I love support what I do though sometimes even I question what I do. Do anyone notice? Do anyone care? Why not get a job and travel every 6 mths, live life? Why worry about a business when I can mostly focus on what I do best in someone else's company? Why! Why! Why!
All these questions and more loom as I try to stay focus and convicted in my belief. Being an entrepreneur isn't easy but it isn't hard either. What's truly difficult is surviving it. Will I fail? While failure is good and encouraged in the valley, not a single soul wants to fail in their endeavor so the fear of failure always lingers.
In fact, failure is celebrated in the valley so much so that you gain credibility. This creates a misperception that it's ok to fail. Well, not in my book because everyone loves winners more than losers. The message Silicon Valley is trying to get across is that failure is part of success so get back up and try again. Fear of failure is good. Being an entrepreneur is facing these fears head on.
Celebrate the Victories
As an entrepreneur, there's good days and there's bad days, mostly bad days. Meeting the right people and getting them excited is what it's all about. Celebrating the very small victories is essential to your survival. I don't mean popping champaign and having sexy parties but rather, a smile, pat your shoulder and move forward.
For example, when Khoi Vinh said Hunie looks awesome, my thought was...
Life of an entrepreneur is uncertainty. It's walking into the unknown armed with nothing but a dream laced with risks. Risk of isolation, failure, health issues, relationship fatigue and so much more. The best analogy I ever heard of a startup was,
It's like jumping off a mountain, building an airplane as you fall and hoping it takes off before you hit ground.
I don't recall who said that but it's something to that effect. I think there couldn't be a more accurate description. Tell me which part of that sounds glamorous.
Conviction to Bring About Change
The people who've built great companies cared about changing the world. Entrepreneurship might be popular now with everyone, their mom and a dog doing it but history will only remember the ones who dared to change the world. Do I see what I do as having such an impact? Yes! Every good entrepreneur would. It's executing with conviction with all the odds stacked against you that proves if you're full of shit or not. It's that conviction that will even allow your startup to survive.
The following video is the trailer of a documentary that covers the stories usually told.
What of the stories not told? What about the hundreds of no's you receive before one investor says yes? What of the sleepless nights? What about the battles with co-founders? What about the entrepreneurs who got the raw deal? Too often do we focus on the success and as a result, it's easy to think this is easy. I hope this documentary tells it because the entrepreneurs who suffer would be able to take comfort in the fact that founders who are successful didn't always have it easy.
The rawest and most gritty insight into entrepreneurship I've read was by Goran Duskic who wrote The Post about Entrepreneurs that was never Supposed to be Published. Most startups come with 2+ founders.