The following commentary is by Morgan of Gift Pinpoint (SUP 7.2). It represents only his personal opinion, unless anyone out there happens to randomly agree with him.
Starting a startup is just like having a baby. Let me list the ways:
- It will cry at all times of the day and night — when it wants to, not when you’re ready. When your company is growing fast, problems will happen. The CEO is often the chief fire-fighter (when did people stop saying “fireman” and start saying “fire fighter” anyway?). More like, a fire-fighter in a wooden city where everyone enjoys lighting massive bonfires inside just for fun. You’ll be putting out fires day and night.
- You need to be physically and emotionally prepared. Being up all night, night after night after night requires a lot of physical endurance and emotional willpower. Just like building your company: there’s going ot be disaster after disaster and you need to be have the strength, both in your body and in your mind, to continue fighting for it.
- It’s a long-term commitment. Your baby will — God-willing! — be with you for 18 years. You need to have the attitude with your company, that you are building it for long-term profit and value. If you happen to sell it in 3 years for $20 million, then all the better 🙂
- Constantly be re-analyzing the risk factors. Anything that can go wrong, just might. With a baby, this becomes crystal clear: if I drop him, he can get permanent brain damage! With a company, you must always be asking yourself: “if I fail, what is the single most likely cause? How do I minimize that risk?”
- If you do everything right, he’ll grow very quickly before your eyes. If you do your job right, you’ll see him get stronger and bigger every day. Although not with its visits to the hospital and dean’s office!
- Did I mention the crying and that it’s your job non-stop to stop it while making sure there’s no bigger problem underlying the crying? Oh yes, I did!
- As soon as he fits into the expensive clothing you bought for him… he’ll instantly outgrow it. Just like your business: you’ll spend 18 months building the right software — only to discover, by the time it’s ready, your needs have changed. This is the underlying driving insight behind the Lean movement.
- It’s your job to clean up the doo-doo. You just can’t outsource that to anyone else. The big CEO needs to humble himself and clean up the messes himself.
- The signs of failure are sometimes obvious… but sometimes subtle. This is probably my most important point here. When you’re making a big mistake, you might get instant feedback that it’s not working (drop in sales!) but often, too often, you don’t: you think it’s improving when maybe, just maybe — and sometimes, too often, this happens in the real world — there’s a disaster in the making and you just don’t see the iceberg ahead. Until it’s too late.
- You need to take care of it, keeping your eye on the ball, every single moment. At any moment, the head can go back too far and snap, or he can roll over in his sleep and choke on a blanket, or any one of a million things. So the challenge is to stay focused while not going crazy.
- If you manage to pull it off successfully, it might be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever created. It’s hard doing it just right — but if you do, it will be worth it. “Vale la pena” as they say in Spanish.
In conclusion: there’s a reason why entrepreneurs often call their company, their “baby.” Treat it with the care and focus that your baby deserves.