The Startup Grind

Being a startup founder sound exciting doesn’t it? Look at Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg with their billions and toys galore. It all seems so glamorous, and if you hit it big eventually it will be. However, in the early days of a business, startup life is a grind. You will be working crazy hours. You’ll be doing jobs or tasks you definitely don’t want to do. You will also be the only one who really cares about your business fully and completely. I hope you are ready for this. I did this twice, with a high school sports startup and a FinTech enabled lender, so I know what I’m talking about.

You might have a crazy idea in your head that being your own boss will allow you to set your own hours. Hey, you’re not going to be working on a schedule set by your manager anymore, right? Wrong! Your new hours are “always open”, at least for the first few years. In the beginning you likely won’t have many or any employees you can trust to get stuff done, so you will always be working to keep the ship afloat. Even when you are not “at work” you likely will be constantly thinking of ways to advance your business. It is really hard to shut it down when you are a startup founder. Finding strategies to unplug will be important for your mental well being.

Maybe you are starting a business after an executive role at a big company. If so, the types of tasks you will have to do with your startup will likely shock you. At most early stage companies there is no IT team, no HR department, no legal team. You are going to be doing all those things yourself now. And worse, you might be carrying equipment to locations, shopping for supplies, even cleaning the toilets. This is your business, and it is going to be under-resourced for the first few years. If the thought of doing tasks that other people used to handle for you is disdainful, stop now and don’t even consider being a founder. Embrace every role, fill the lower level ones as quickly as budgets allow, and remember it will eventually get better.

The last point on this topic is that no one at your company is ever going to care about its success as much as you do. This may seem obvious, but it will manifest in some difficult ways. Your employees will blow off tasks, they will do things sloppily or not at all, and it will drive you nuts. Relax and understand that the business is your baby and not theirs, even if they have equity in the company. You are in charge and get to make the final call on everything, so you are going to be the person that lives and dies by the success or failure of this endeavor. Don’t expect your team to care as much as you do. Cut them some slack and enjoy the positives of being in charge.

Thanks for reading today’s post, I hope this helps you process the grind that is going to be necessary to succeed as a startup founder.

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