Stop Pretending you can Start a Company while Avoiding Sacrifice and Risk
by: Wil Shroter
We all know the perfect scenario for doing a startup looks like this:
1. I’ll keep my current job (income). Instead of sacrificing my lifestyle I’ll just stay fully employed and eliminate any cash concerns.
2. I’ll quite my job when the startup takes off. I’ll keep working at my startup until the income from that venture surpasses what I’m currently making.
3. I’ll work nights and weekends. I’ll find the time I need in my free evenings and weekends to make up for the time spent at work.
Yet this is the most unrealistic approach to starting a company. While it’s true, many companies are started by Founders that are working a regular job, this approach overlooks two critical components to a startup – “commitment” and “risk”.
Commitment = Sacrifice
Commitment isn’t just about putting in a few extra hours per week. Commitment is about sacrificing a lot of time. It’s about giving up things you like to do.
Commitment is missing dinner with your family.
Commitment is working on holidays.
Commitment is not seeing your friends again.
Commitment is letting your golf clubs rust.
(OK, so maybe letting your clubs rust is a bit harsh!)
My point is that you’re not going to be able to commit to a startup and avoid sacrifice altogether. Instead, you need to embrace sacrifice. You need to recognize that every moment you’re giving up is an investment in something you’re trying to build.
Startup companies require far more time than you could possibly invest, even if you never slept. To think you can create a competitive product in the market in your free time against people who do this 24/7 is just unrealistic. You gotta be fully committed to fully compete.
No Reward without Risk
The second problem is dealing with risk. You don’t want to risk your mortgage payment, or your cushy job, or your financial reserves by dropping everything and doing a startup.
Well guess what? You’re going to risk it all.
You’re going to risk your job.
You’re going to risk not making your mortgage payment.
You’re going to risk spending your kid’s college fund.
You’re going to risk blowing through your retirement account.
You’re going to risk all of this stuff because a startup requires every bit of capital you can possibly muster. The very nature of a new company is that it is all-consuming on capital, with no definitive end in sight.
The only way to feed that beast is to use your personal cash. That means draining your reserves and tightening your belt. It basically means you’re going to risk a whole hell of a lot of money.
Trying to avoid that is like trying to pretend a startup doesn’t need cash to grow. That’s like trying to Google “Chuck Norris getting his ass kicked.” You’ll get zero results, because it just doesn’t happen.
Instead of trying to avoid risk, try to embrace it. Embrace your risk by cutting all of your costs to the bear minimum, get used to the reality of exponential debt, and understand that your anxiety and stress is your payment for success.
Yes, the payment is high. But the reward is why you’re doing this in the first place, right?