6 Rules for Managing Through the Highs and Lows of a Startup

June 13th, 2014 / Comments Off on 6 Rules for Managing Through the Highs and Lows of a Startup

Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. People become enamored with the idea of pursuing their own passion and being the controller of their own destiny. But that’s a romanticized version of what really happens.

Most entrepreneurs fail. But it’s not just the statistics thatshow us that, it’s also common sense. It’s very hard to turn an idea into reality and then, even harder to turn that new reality to something of great significance. One’s chance of success is about the same as catching lightning in bottle!

We know the breakout stories—those A+ ideas that took off from the beginning, like eBay or Facebook. But the reality is these thunderlizards are rare! Oftentimes, the world is not ready for a new idea and, they wind up not getting traction. Intrepid entrepreneurs go back to the drawing board and pivot (Instagram or Fab), but this too, is not the majority of startup scenarios. Most fall in a middle space—there is some traction, but the flywheel is not going, and you are not sure if the idea will scale. This is what I call a “tweener” and it’s a dangerous place to be.

All of these stages require extreme intestinal fortitude on behalf of an entrepreneur. How do you brace yourself for the ups and downs? Remember these rules:

Know that conviction is required. You’ll get the Heisman all day long, from everyone you encounter—investors, people who use the product or service, people who are testing it out. There is no reason to get distraught at hearing “no” or that your idea is “stupid”. Instead, get inspired by it and become their most valuable product or service.-Understand the importance of constant analysis. Monitor progress constantly so you know how to iterate and advance your idea, or in the words of Kenny Rogers, “Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.”

Pledge total focus and commitment. Building a company is a long-term proposition. Knowing that you are making a commitment for a decade will give you the perspective you need to make it through the tough moments.

Get over needing outside validation. If you need a pat on the back you may not make a good entrepreneur. You need faith in yourself; you cannot rely on others to keep you going. Find strength in your passion for your idea and your interest in changing the world.

Become more comfortable with risk. If you need certainty, being an entrepreneur probably won’t make you very happy. At its core, it’s a high risk/high reward endeavor.

Acknowledge your motives. Are you in this for money or impact? Once you know what you are really chasing, you’ll know when you find it.

Is it difficult to be an entrepreneur? Absolutely. But it’s also fun and terrifying at same time. It’s just like caring for a baby. You are excited about the idea, but there are times when everything turns to poop and you are constantly up in the middle of the night. You are going to be tired and frustrated, but also fulfilled beyond anything you could have imagined.

If that sounds right, you are ready to handle the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. If not, it’s not your time to have a startup—after all, unlike with a baby, you can’t hire a nanny to do the work for you.

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