A Recovering Startup Junkie
How I battled serial entrepreneurship and won.
It was less than two years ago when Fast Company shared a story about all of the startups and projects I had started. I had a lot of them but at the time I thought it was cool. And the way to success. Hey, I was a serial entrepreneur.
Since then I’ve learned a lot. For starters, splitting your focus not only confuses your to-do list but also confuses most of the people around you when it comes to what you’re working on. Giving a pitch now turns into — Which project should I tell you about today? Oh, that one doesn’t interest you? Here’s another. It’s exhausting and most of the time you wind up with mediocre results.
One of the most important lessons is that focus is the number one thing that can and will make or break a company. So at the end of 2012 I decided to focus on WeWork Labs with my partner Matt. It’s been going swimingly and the confusion has settled. I wanted to share three things that I did to help me ween off the startup bottle.
- It began with a conversation. I sat down and shared all the ideas that were really interesting to me when it came to products and business. Every time I spoke to a mentor or friend about what I enjoyed working on it ultimately led back to building the best support system for other young entrepreneurs. I would talk about investing, building tools to connect entrepreneurs or products that support a company’s growth. All of these led back to the community.
- I began looking at my options. I could build something new or I could join an organization that existed. I quickly realized that I already had a lot of what I was looking for within my own network. It was an idea that Matt and I had already helped build, WeWork Labs. Up until this point, I had always looked at Labs as a passion project. We had never paid ourselves or taken any money off the table. Adam was building the WeWork empire and we were a part of it but it wasn’t our focus. We realized it could be.
- I gave everything else up. This was the hardest step but once I had I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I had spent every waking hour for over two years worrying about challenges and solutions across a lot of businesses. I was finally able to focus on just one. I could sit and think for hours on end about how to build WeWork Labs into the amazing community we hoped it would be. And I could do this while not driving the people around me crazy — especially my wife (who has been my biggest supporter from day one).
I know most of you reading this are probably thinking: “Duh, this makes so much sense. Focus, focus, focus.” But it took me a while to get to it. I got sucked into the idea of creating, creating, creating and forgot about building a solution.
I know that I’m lucky to have figured it out and I hope that reading this helps you, just a little bit, find your focus.