Entrepreneurship is the new black. It’s more popular than ever.
And that’s just awesome. Until it’s not. People will get hurt. Lives will get ruined and then the world will magically get into balance again.
There is a fairytale that’s been told again and again via the media for some years now. Entrepreneurs are (supposed to be) these amazing guys getting filthy rich and famous, burning billions of VC money, traveling the world doing what they love. And that’s true. Well.. sometimes.
Here’s what happens most of the times according to (my) reality and experience.
I always like to talk with numbers. Numbers never lie you see.
Here are some:
Let numbers do the talking
Odds are, a startup launched today will fail within 24 months. Period.
In fact, three out of four venture-backed companies don’t return investors’ capital, and half of all new businesses close their doors before they’ve been open for five years.
Just to make that clear. If you start a startup today, you have 97% chance to be dead by year 3. Do you like the chances ?
Here’s some more from smallbiztrends
In fact, of all small businesses started in 2011:
4 percent made it to the second year
3 percent made it to the third year
On top of that, have in mind that building a business is SUPER HARD by default.
Elon Musk once said:
“You have to put in incredible amounts of efforts and huge amounts of stress — and it’s much more painful than most people realize. And most companies die. On a certain level in your brain, your brain — we didn’t evolve, like, with companies; we evolved to respond to real death. And even though a company’s death is not real, it’s not like someone is physically dying, your brain doesn’t quite understand that on the limbic system level. So it’s really sort of painfully stressful. You probably don’t want to go through that more than once.“
Here’s the deal. Its REALY hard. No, if you haven’t been there (like most “startup gurus” out there), you can’t even imagine how hard it is.
As Elon Musk noted “You have to put in incredible amounts of efforts and huge amounts of stress” and i would add to that “for a very very long time”. In fact, you will be at this “status” consistently. It’s like raping your soul over and over again. You hate it, but you kinda don’t. I can’t really explain that. It’s the only way to move forward. If it makes no sense to you, it’s because you are normal.
Steve Jobs once said:
“You need a lot of passion for what you’re doing because its so hard. Without passion, any rational person would give up.
So if youre not having fun doing it, if you dont absolutely love it, youre going to give up.
And thats what happens to most people, actually.”
Ok, i think we got the point so far. Building a business is hard. Super hard. Things almost always look like are going south. You plan, and then you watch your plans failing big-time. And then you plan again, better. You pivot. And then you pivot some more.
The doubting-everything phase (aka. depression)
There are times you feel like you are wasting the best years of your life on an idea. Thinks get so blurry, you don’t trust yourself anymore. And that’s the worse part. All you ever had was trust in yourself and an idea.
You remember. When your friends were partying and traveling the world, you didn’t. You couldn’t. You had to work on that project. Your vision. Asshole.
When trust is gone, it’s almost game over. You will have to regain that trust somehow. And that’s very difficult when you are down. Hit. When you have no proof that what you are after, is even doable. You start to think that maybe you have sold yourself a little happy story. And you fucking bought it.
Maybe you should apply for a “real” job, like some people used to tell you. You put your family at risk after all.
Ok. Pause. You have been there before. Numerous of times. But this time feels like it’s irreversible.
Your stomach aches and your heart is beating fast. You are about to have another panic attack. Your family counts on you, fucking idiot. You can’t lose it now.
You take a deep breath and throw some cold water at your face. You need to control it this time. Because you simply have to. If you let go, you are done. Done! You know that. There are no alternatives.
You cornered yourself. On purpose. You bastard.
Get up. Take a walk. That always helps. Walk, walk, walk and then walk some more.
The Rocky phase!
Let’s get up now. It’s time. Wash out the blood from your teeth and wipe the tears from your eyes. That way, taste and vision are back. You must revaluate things. What the fuck went wrong ? Where did you miss?
Your family comes back to your mind. Your daughter smiles in your head again. You crack a little smile too. You can’t help it.
They count on you. But they support you like crazy. They must be a little crazy too, you’re thinking. They had to be. They bet on you after all.
Ok, let’s think things over. What the fuck went wrong ? What didn’t i do i should have done? Are things really that bad ? Questions loop in your head.
Again and again and again and again and again and again.. Your brain is about to burn out. You can smell it.
Ok, close your eyes. Calm yourself down and you try to think things through. You can’t do this anymore. Not to yourself nor your family.
“Come on! You can do this!”. That weird voice in your head again. You are crazy. That’s a fact.
Fuck, who are you kidding? You cannot go on like that. Let’s call that for what it is. You failed.
After all, a lot of people fail. You went “against all odds” like Phil Collins once said and you failed. No biggie!
And then, out of the blue, in a fragment of a second, your mind takes over the feelings. Numbers, facts. Nothing else.
Are really things that bad?
The revaluation phase
You get numb inside. Dead. You need to set logic free, so you block every feeling away.
Most of the times things are a little better than they feel. Anxiety is the worse advisor ever. You know.
You get a beer and a blank piece of paper. Thoughts are getting a bit numb too, but a bit clearer at the same time. Its strange, but it works every single time.
You are making some drawings, connecting clusters, random code and notes. Stuff that makes sense only to you. Its everything in your head after all. All you need is to try to through up your brain on the paper and put everything in order.
You are having another beer. You are now relaxed. Alcohol has a strange effect to your thinking process. It puts things in order somehow. I know what your are thinking. No, im not an alcoholic. I think :).
You skype your co-founder and partner in crime. He is down too. But now, you can help him pick up his pieces. He has done that for you too many times in the past. Thats whats biz partners do after all. Thats the main reason you should have a co-founder. It’s super important.
Business is 100X more tough if you do it alone. I’ve been on both sides, and i choose co-founding everytime. Trust me.
It’s getting late. Eyes are getting heavy. You fall asleep on the couch.
Quality of sleep, very bad. You wake up numerous of times in the middle of the night. Sweating. Your heart is beating fast. Somehow you manage to calm your self down again.
You wake up.
Its 5:30am on a Tuesday.
Ready to do it all once again?