The Surprising Realities of Startups

Daniel Bendig


Everyone dreams about being their own boss. The idea of having the freedom to make your own hours and not have to answer to someone else is an alluring concept. It doesn’t help that pop culture and television shows, such as Silicon Valley, glorify the idea of leaving the big industry to form a new company and become your own boss. But after seeing the startup world first hand I have come to a few realizations.

Everyone and no one is your boss.

You aren’t your own boss, or not in the sense that you think. On one hand you are the person making the decisions, leading the team and ultimately held responsible for the business. Yet, you are also accountable to your investors, customers and your employees who all want the business to be a success. Because of all this you end up in a role where you become much less of the stereotypical boss figure and more of the team all star. This means being able to work on an equal level with your employees while also not being afraid to take charge and be a leader. In theory, it sounds simple and almost natural, but reality proves that it requires a surprising amount of grit and humility.

The odds are not in your favor.

The notion that your idea or business is special and unique enough to succeed no matter what is false. Numbers don’t lie and when 90% of startups fail, it is important to know that no matter how great your idea is the startup process is going to be less of an uphill battle and more like scaling the Burj Khalifa with a spoon. The importance of this lesson though isn’t to make someone quit, but to provide a realistic picture of the challenge before them and the required work.

No one is 100% ready.

Even if you read this article and a dozen others, it is impossible to know what your startup journey will look like because each one has its own unique challenges. The startup process is a baptism by fire, so to speak. I know when I came to Kahoots I thought I was as ready as anyone due to my background and unique work experiences. But, I realized that it isn’t so much a person’s history that will prepare them for their startup experience, but how well they can adapt and work. If two people were to compete in the startup world, I would pick the less experienced, more adaptable person over anyone else.

The intention of this article is not to scare people away from startups, but rather to reveal the less glamorized side of things. My experience here at Kahoots has proven to be one of the most challenging and unique times of my college career, and one which I hope to be able to pass onto others. If you enjoyed this article follow us for more interesting pieces related to Kahoots, startups, Chicago or whatever pops into our mind that day.

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