No one will give a damn about your startup if you don’t (even your mum won’t)/

Startups Are Hard.

So work harder, hustle more, cry less and quit all your whining.

Entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Kevin Hale make building a startup feel easy.

Left to Right : Bill Gates, Kevin Hale and Mark Zuckerberg

Don’t Believe The Media!

Globally, there has been this mega trend to glamourise startups.

  • Instagram sold for a $1B.
  • Facebook IPO’d at $100B.
  • WhatsApp generated $20M in revenue but was acquired for $19B.
  • Alibaba IPO’d at $231B.

Truth is, most reporting on startups suffers from success bias. Nobody wants to report on a dying startup unless the founder went on to create another successful startup (check the story of Meerkat’s founders).

The Social Network, The Story of Facebook as told by Hollywood

Over the last decade, the number of Malaysians working on their own startup has probably increased by at least a factor of 10.

Movies such as The Social Network have popularised the idea of building your own startup, just like The X Factor and American Idol have popularised the idea of being a singer.

Now, everyone wants to build their own startup, buy their respective roof top office in the big city and turn it into their own Google Plex.

The only problem is that the motivation should be toward solving a problem, not ‘building a startup’ because it’s cool to tell your friends about and to make you feel important.


The Truth is Far From That

The reality is nothing like what is portrayed in movies and on the internet. Every single startup is an enormous risk, a huge effort, and a tremendous continuous fight. It requires constant investments of time, energy and commitment. It consumes all of your emotional energy, and all of your attention.

Having been a ‘start up guy’ for the last two years, I’ve learned that starting a company is the most fun I have ever had. Unfortunately, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

At times, they are soul-crushingly hard.

I’m no longer afraid to admit this. I am not afraid to talk openly about it with my friends and colleagues. Until you succeed as a startup founder, you’ll live with the constant fear of losing.

TBH, Most Startups Run on Fear

Many startups run on fear (especially in the early days), such as

  • Fear of the bank account balance running lower by the day
  • Fear of losing your best hires as Google/Facebook are knocking on their door every day offering them 2x/3x/4x of what you can afford to offer
  • Fear of finding out that Google decided to replicate your whole business overnight as a FEATURE for one of their products
  • Fear of investors backing down after initially saying yes
  • Fear of customers leaving your product for a better product
  • Fear of a new government regulation making you redundant to your clients
  • Fear of your cofounder leaving to start a competitive product
  • Fear of not living up to your investors’ expectations and hence, losing further funding or worse, a down round
  • Fear of missing out on the fun that your friends are having while you are working late night

The saddest words that I have heard from a founder was from a friend who have given up on her startup, she said:

I’d work on my resumé, but I don’t even have anything new to put on it yet, because we haven’t actually shipped anything. I’m going to go home and cry myself to sleep now.

Now, Don’t Get Me Wrong

Fear is not a bad thing. Fear is a huge motivator, perhaps even better than Kanye West’s Ego.

It’s what keeps you focused in a startup. Personally, I’ve always thrived on fear, because it can bring out the best in me. I believe that the moment you get too comfortable, you’ll lose your competitive edge.

I’m putting pressure on these guys and I know, But I’m still on the road like I’m scared of going broke, Cause I ain’t never satisfied — Drake

What Building A Startup Really Means?

Building a startup means hardly having time for family, no time for a real social life, no time for vacations, and every single minute of your life is devoted to thinking about your startup.

Now, it’s cheaper to create a startup than a decade ago. But, many interconnected technologies, people and details must come together to get even the simplest startup off the ground.

Startups are the place where dreams turn to ash. The default mode for a startup is survival, because most founders lack experience. Hence, they usually go from one idiotic mistake to another. These mistakes are usually responsible for turning dreams to ashes.

Startups don’t die. They commit suicide.

Unwritten rule of the startup world: You are a Nobody until You are a Somebody

Trying to launch a product as a Nobody is hard. Trying to get clients as a nobody is hard. Trying to get Techcrunch or Mashable to write about your product as a Nobody is very hard because nobody knows who you are (read: nobody cares who you are). To get investors to answer your call when you are a Nobody is next to impossible.

So, how to move from being a nobody to becoming somebody?

By giving more damn than anyone else about your startup.

How?

Work harder, hustle more, cry less and quit all your whining.


Thanks for reading this far! If you got value out of this post, it would mean a lot to me for you to scroll down a bit farther and hit the recommend button.

A single golf clap? Or a long standing ovation?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.