Startups Are Not A Roller-Coaster Ride..or Lessons Learned From Building/Selling P2S

October 13, 2013

Contrary to popular belief startups aren’t a roller-coaster ride. Startups are a bull-ride. With a roller-coaster you see what’s coming (if you keep your eyes open). The goal of the bull/bull-ride is to throw you off and you’re just working to stay on the ride. That’s exactly how it feels with a startup.

Phil and I sold Power2Switch after 4.5 years of riding the bull and it was 4.5 years that felt like twenty years (in terms of learnings) and also felt like 1 year (in terms of how quickly it all seemed to happen). We had a great team to work with and I'm eternally grateful to them. The scars/bruises have provided some lessons that I thought would be great to share. 

1. Hire attitude over ability: ‘Attitude’ figures things out even when it doesn’t know. Especially when it doesn’t know. Ability thinks it deserves to be at the table and finds it difficult to learn.

2. Reflect carefully on the advise you get/take particularly from people who’ve never built or grown a business.

3. Be inflexible with your (well thought out) vision. But be very flexible with the strategy and the tactics that will get you ‘there’. Especially in light of data that indicate it’s time to course correct.

The Scenic Railway at Luna Park, Melbourne, is...

The Scenic Railway at Luna Park, Melbourne, is the world’s oldest continually-operating rollercoaster, built in 1912. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. Your startup is not the only thing in your life: As a founder your identity becomes deeply intertwined with the business. Deeply. But don’t let the business consume you. When you do, events in your personal life will conspire to remind you of what matters.

5. Customers signing up and telling their friends who then sign up (i.e. revenue generating customers) reduce the effect of every problem you think your startup has. Oftentimes customers are the problem and the solution.

6. Good User Experience is really just Empathy: learn empathy if you don't have it/nurture it if you do because it's the difference between a product consumers love and one they can't wait to be done with.

7. Bad times don’t last, if you deal with things head on, and don’t blame yourself too much. Good times also don’t last and remember that something not so great is just around the corner. Celebrate but not too much.

8. Bringing your vision to life is one of the most fulfilling experiences ever. Enjoy every second of it. Even the frustrating times. It’s what you signed up for.

It’s been quite refreshing waking up these last few weeks and not reaching for my phone to check if something went wrong with the site/business while I was asleep. Now I get woken up by a crying baby and, oddly, it’s a welcome change from most of my mornings in the last few years.

Bull Riding

Bull Riding (Photo credit: Bill Gracey)

Got some great advice about recharging with time off and I took/am taking it. I’m getting antsy though :)…

ps: modified from an earlier post on Svbtle.

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