7 Key Learnings From my First Two Years as a Startup Founder

Last week, #paid celebrated its 2nd year anniversary. Looking back on my experience over the last two years, here are the top 7 things I’ve learned.

#paid team members gather to celebrate #paid’s 2nd year anniversary

1. You’ll never improve if you never try something you don’t know how to do.

Push yourself outside your comfort zone. In order to do something, you have to attempt to do it, even if there’s a chance you’ll fail.

2. Celebrate the highs because the lows will be just as low.

This is an amazing piece of advice told to me by my friend, Phil Jacobson. If you accomplish a goal or hit a certain milestone, you should recognize your achievement and celebrate with your team. Recognizing your achievement helps balance you through the lows.

“You need to be passionate enough about what you’re doing to get you through the hard times.”

3. There’s no such thing as work/life balance.

It’s more of a work/life fluctuation. There will be times where you will be able to relax and hangout with your friends and family. But more often than not, you have to put in exhausting amounts of energy and hard work, working through the weekends. No matter what, you need to be passionate enough about what you’re doing to get you through the hard times.

4. If you’re not a substantially better person physically and mentally than you were six months ago, you’re not doing it right.

Try meditating. Yoga. Hire a spiritual coach. Try therapy. If you don’t like the gym maybe just do cardio. Drink lots of water. Learn about what you eat. Find a way to eat healthier. Try not drinking alcohol. This is the only way to operate at your optimal performance level and be as successful as you can possibly be in the short amount of time and runway you have to hit your next major milestone. De-risk your venture by being the optimal you.

Resource: try League.com to hire a personal yoga instructor, life coach, or in-home massage.

5. Try just-in-time learning, not just-in-case learning.

I used to have a never-ending list of books to read. Maybe you do as well. But now, I have a never-ending collection of resources that I may read in the future — when I need to. I’ve learned it’s better to read books that will help you with your immediate next steps than to read books that may come in handy sometime down the road. Launched a clothing e-commerce store? Read about optimizing conversion rates and increasing retention. Launching a b2b SaaS company? Read about finding product-market fit quickly and lowering churn.

“Surround yourself with people who aren’t afraid to point out the flaws in your business, not people who tell you everything is fine.”

6. Seek mentors.

Surround yourself with people who aren’t afraid to point out the flaws in your business, not people who tell you everything is fine. It’s the only way to improve. You’re the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with, so find smart people and learn from them.

7. The most important factor for success is whether or not you believe in yourself.

You will 100% fail if you do not believe in yourself. Believing in yourself is a requirement for success. If you don’t believe in yourself, work on that first before you convince team members and investors to bet on you.

Bryan Gold is the Co-founder and CEO of #paid, The world’s leading influencer marketing and collaboration platform.

Say hi on Twitter @bryangold.

Thank you for reading!