A long post from a startup CEO on the edge of existence

I just had a mental breakdown, and started to cry…a lot.…

My bank, where I have been a customer at since I was 18, just called me and said that I won’t get the $30.000 second loan on our apartment. I was first annoyed with the girl and asked why, and then the anger grew while I was asking how I could adjust my situation to get another decision.

She: We don’t consider you to be able to pay back the loan.

Me: Okay, on what grounds?

She: We don’t consider you to be able to pay back the loan.

Me: Oookay, anything I can do? Is this because I don’t earn enough?

She: We don’t consider you to be able to pay back the loan.

Me: Right, I fully understand, but are there ANYTHING I can do? Get another person on board to cover half of it? Earn more?

She: We don’t consider you to… (You get the picture here…)

Me (talking slow and clear): Okay, so you mean that you don’t want to tell me anything else on how I potentially could change the situation? Increase my salary? Lower the amount? Anything?

Can I ask you a question? Do you know how long I have been a customer at your bank?

She: No

Me: How come that you call me so unprepared? Do you think this is a good customer service?

She: That’s our decision anyways, sorry.

I gave her a few tips on how to prepare before a customer call, on how she should communicate in order to let the customer believe that you still are interested to have their business…

This what not a totally unexpected message, that the bank would deny the application but still, when you are under a lot of stress and pressure, the smallest thing can make you break down and cry, telling yourself that; this is it, time to quit.

We’re a small team trying to fill the suit of a larger fintech player, fighting the battle with and against much bigger players with 1000 employees, 10 years of existence, better budgets, more press coverage, and so on. You get the picture; it’s hard.

I tell myself often that; Hey crazystartupceo, this is what you want to do most of all. You are living your dream. People look up to you. You should enjoy this journey and focus on the positive parts and try to push down the negatives.

We have some really good traction lately. More and more customers join us; we’re making money and attract a lot of attention both from partners, customers and VCs.

But it’s hard.

Some times it feels so damn hard and difficult.

Trying to build a company, to compete with much bigger players, trying to communicate with financial institutions, trying to hire and fire, trying to act like a CEO that knows what he is doing … While having a family with two kids that need their dads attention at home, in school and so on.

Why do I really do this?

Is this a dream that actually can be achieved? Am I in over my (and my family’s) head?

My strength and weakness is that I can really do everything. I try not to do, I try to delegate, hire good people, but the high standards that I have on myself is quite hard to have on others. I code, produce, write, design, sell, budget, arrange company activities et. all.

Is this what is required to make it?

Do you need to be a superhuman (on Zoloft) to create a company and take it to success? What is success anyways? Getting that seed-round? Getting that partnership? A sales meeting with one of the biggest retailers in the world?

The thing is that your aim is always selecting a better target whenever you reach one milestone. Then the next, then the next… And if you fail along the way you get so devastated and want to give up. Give up. Give up.

Picking up the kids after school…. Give up.

Checking your bank account…. Give up.

Not getting that client because you are small and unproven…Give up.

I wonder if I ever will be satisfied? I never celebrate wins, not often anyways, because the backlog with challenges is always growing and when you nail one win, two more challenges appear. How can I learn to tackle that? How can I learn to enjoy the success and the great growth numbers that we have? It’s so hard.

I guess that this post is quite depressing, but that is what got me to finally write it. I’ve been on Reddit and Hacker News for years, reading, digesting and learning, not having time to actually write about how I feel as a Startup Entrepreneur. Today I have time because I got that bad call from the bank, and instead of taking care of some tickets in trello, I broke down in tears under the pressure of life.

It’s kind of hard to talk about all this, since you need to have this “Hey team/friend/customer/employee — it’s all good and we’re crushing it” attitude. If you want to lead, you can’t be weak. That’s why I finally ventilate to you Reddit and tells you my deepest thoughts on how hard this journey is.

Someone said: “What’s the difference between a successful entrepreneur and a failed one? — The successful, didn’t give up.”

I’m not giving up today, and hopefully not tomorrow either. (I have some meetings with investors so, it would be really bad timing to give up ;)

Take care!

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