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Vanessa Karel

Vanessa Karel

Vanessa Karel

Vanessa Karel

2 months ago

10 hard lessons from founding a startup.

Here is the ugly stuff, read this if you have a founder in your life or are trying to become one. Your call.

#1 You'll try to talk yourself to sleep, but it won't always work.

As founders, we're all driven. Good and bad, you're restless. Success requires resistance and discipline. Your startup will be on your mind 24/7, and not everyone will have the patience to listen to your worries, ideas, and coffee runs. You become more self-sufficient than ever before.

#2 No one will understand what you're going through unless they've been a founder.

Some of my closest friends don't understand the work that goes into starting a business, and we can't blame them.

#3 You'll feel alienated.

Your problems aren't common; calling your bestie won't help. You must search hard for the right resources. It alienates you from conversations you no longer relate to. (No 4th of July, no long weekends!)

#4 Since you're your "own boss," people assume you have lots of free time.

Do you agree? I was on a webinar with lots of new entrepreneurs, and one woman said, "I started my own business so I could have more time for myself." This may be true for some lucky people, and you can be flexible with your schedule. If you want your business to succeed, you'll probably be its slave for a while.

#5 No time for illness or family emergencies.

Both last month. Oh, no! Physically and emotionally withdrawing at the worst times will give you perspective. I learned this the hard way because I was too stubborn to postpone an important interview. I thought if I rested all day and only took one call, I'd be fine. Nope. I had a fever and my mind wasn't as sharp, so my performance and audience interaction suffered. Nope. Better to delay than miss out.

Oh, and setting a "OoO" makes you cringe.

#6 Good luck with your mental health, perfectionists.

When building a startup, it's difficult to accept that there won't be enough time to do everything. You can't make them all, not perfectly. You must learn to accept things that are done but not perfect.

#7 As a founder, you'll make mistakes, but you'll want to make them quickly so you can learn.

Hard lessons are learned quicker. You'll need to pivot and try new things often; some won't work, and it's best to discover them sooner rather than later.

#8 Pyramid schemes abound.

I didn't realize how bad it was until I started a company. You must spy and constantly research. As a founder, you'll receive many emails from people claiming to "support" you. Be wary and keep your eyes open. When it's too good to be true. Some "companies" will try to get you to pay for "competitions" to "pitch at events." Don't do it.

#9 Keep your competitor research to a minimum.

Actually, competition is good. It means there's a market for those solutions. However, this can be mentally exhausting too. Learn about their geography and updates, but that's it.

#10 You'll feel guilty taking vacation.

I don't know what to say, but I no longer enjoy watching TV, and that's okay. Pay attention to things that enrich you, bring you joy, and have fun. It boosts creativity.

Being a startup founder may be one of the hardest professional challenges you face, but it's also a great learning experience. Your passion will take you places you never imagined and open doors to opportunities you wouldn't have otherwise. You'll meet amazing people. No regrets, no complaints. It's a roller coaster, but the good days are great.

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