Some people look at really successful founders, like the co-founders of Airbnb or Uber, and think the life of an entrepreneur is truly glamorous. And while the aforementioned are what Silicon Valley likes to call “unicorns” (private companies valued at $1 billion or more), they didn’t get there easily.
The truth is, being an entrepreneur is hard. But if you have the guts and the ability to stomach the hard parts, you can make something great that you are excited about working on every day. Even companies that get accepted into accelerators (like UpRamp’s Fiterator) still have a lot of groundwork they need to put in, usually before and definitely after they “graduate.”
If you have an idea, or maybe even a product and are toying with the idea of going out into the world and becoming a startup founder, congratulations! You are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. But here is how it really is, especially early on, if you start your own company.
You Will Worry Everyday
There is no end to the amount of anxiety you will feel as a founder. You will worry about money. You will worry about the product – is it good enough? Will people like it? What if NO ONE likes it? Who will help me if I get into a tough spot? Who is going to mentor me?
All of the above are valid concerns, but there is one that if you get it taken care of early on will make a difference – finding the right mentor. Mentors can help you deal with the anxiety of the other concerns, and hopefully make those concerns less valid. We wrote recently about how to avoid mentor whiplash, because often in an accelerator, or if you have numerous VC investors, you will have people with lots of experience telling you what to do and giving you advice, some great, some not. It will key for you to figure out who and what to listen to.
You Will Have to Learn New Things
Especially in the early days, startup founders (or co-founders) have to do most of the work themselves. So you will have to learn how to incorporate, pay your taxes, build your product, set up your company infrastructure, hire new people, market yourself, fire people, and pay people. If you are a coder by trade, all of this operations, marketing and sales stuff might be intimidating, but you will get really good at learning new things quickly. And once you get some runway space, you can hire people who are better at it than you are.
You Will Work Harder Than Ever
You are going to work harder at this than anything you have ever done. That isn’t limited to the times you spend in front of your computer doing actual work either. You will think about your business all the time. And successful entrepreneurs will think about their product and finding ways to do things better, all the time.
You will find that you have to focus on the most important things first, above all else. And sometimes, you will worry (there is that word again!) that you aren’t sure which thing is the most important. Remember, you can’t do everything because nothing will get done. So prioritize and focus. And turn off distractions, so every second counts.
You Will Have to Take Care of Yourself
One thing many entrepreneurs have in common is they experience burnout because of the amount of work they put in. There are ways to avoid this – and self-care is incredibly important. Exercise, meditation, time with family and friends, and taking real breaks can all reduce the amount of stress and anxiety a startup founder has. Remember – you got into this for a reason and you should still love it even after a hard day, week, month or year.
The life of a startup founder is sometimes glamorous, sometimes wearying, and always fascinating. UpRamp helps connect the startup world to the vast global cable network. We don’t just make connections, we make commitments. Learn more about what we do, or sign up to receive our newsletter below.