(Great) Things take time. How I’m navigating my startup path with patience instead of investors.
When it comes to talk about business, as the way I see it, it’s also about life values, lifestyle and the person who is behind the scenes. Whether if you are a business owner, a freelance, an artist or all of this together, you might see that most of the things you brought to the table are very related to the way you are. Specially when you start your own business it’s surprising to see how this works.
13 months after we had our first client at Otter I’m able to recognize that the values I have for my own business are the same values I apply to my life. Since we launched Otter, as a founder I realized observing the evolution of the project how much my values and mindset were related to the results and the people who become clients. I think to reflect and work in this parallelism between ourselves and our business it’s really interesting (and useful!). However (and related to the title here) I would like to share with you something has been interfering in some way on that for me last months.
I’ve been in a kind of internal contradiction, because while we were developing Otter I realized I have a different perspective about how to develop and grow my own business vs what the main startup ecosystem seems to expect and define as “success”. The reason why I’m talking about this now is that I accepted this recently and I decided to be consequent with this mindset that I share with my cofounder. At the end I come up with the feeling of accepting our own nature as a team and co-founders and that we believe we can develop a startup, project or any business you have in your hands in your own way, not necessarily the one that the market says.
I’m subscribed to some newsletters about the startup world and often the big titles and good news are about raising money. Why are this the highlights here? It seems that if you have an idea, your natural step to do in this is to go for your seed round. My reflections here and why I’m questioning how works the normal startup business it’s something I found out working on my own business and being out there observing and talking to other people in tech events and other common spaces. I met people proud of the round they have just closed or that they are going for one. And my question here is do you really need this money for what you need to launch or test now? Do you really need to accelerate your startup?
I found myself not really feeling impressed by those news. I’m interested in the execution, in knowing which problem they are trying to solve and how, if they found users or clients, etc. Because in other cases it seems we are creating a money bubble. And I think it’s ok if you want to make business with your own business, but out there there are so many other projects that just go that way because it’s seems the way to do it. But at the same time I had so many doubts about if we should go that way as I felt quite rara avis trying to develop my startup as a “real” business and also because walking this path it’s slower when your income just comes from your product at the beginning.
I think the following reflections apply for any kind of project and also at a personal level. I’m not the typical business person you might expect. I don’t have any MBA or economic studies and my past work goes from the TV and media to online marketing through different experiences in a quite multi-faceted type of projects. And here I am in the entrepreneur path. Otherwise I’m 32 and I have deep life experiences and life-learnings with me so I use them to navigate this new chapter. Which has been my basic startup tool kit mindset for doing that? Work and patience.
If you want to make business with “real” income from your customers as we do in Otter you will need to be prepared for a path that probably will be slower, nevertheless you will be under control about what’s happening and be able to prioritize your values and what you think it’s the right thing rather than just focus in exponential growth. I don’t consider this is a “harder” way, because for me thinking about being in debt with an investor and having to give them the metrics I promised it’s more stressful than anything.
We want things quickly and we want the answers now. We live in liquid societies and time as Zygmunt Bauman said, so often we perceive time and reality like water. We expect changes to come fast, results to come fast, relationships go fast. We put something out there and we check immediately how many likes or reactions we have. We train our brains to think in short terms, to expect cause-effect almost immediately. Well, great things take time.