#3 Is The Struggle Real?
This series is about what I’m learning, observing and experiencing while building my startup Saent (pronounce “Saint”). The good, the bad and especially the ugly, each time in under 500 words.
The Struggle is when you wonder why you started the company in the first place.
The Struggle is when people ask you why you don’t quit and you don’t know the answer.
The Struggle is when your employees think you are lying and you think they may be right.
The Struggle is when you want the pain to stop. The Struggle is unhappiness.
Before we continue En Route to Saenthood, let’s pause for a moment to put some perspective on The Struggle. I’ve referred to it in my first post (Ready or not?) and will likely do so again in the future.
The Struggle is about the tough shit you face when you’re the final one in command of an organisation. Now I’ve never been anywhere close to the level of responsibility people like Ben Horowitz have borne, but I have faced all of the same problems at miniature scale in the past.
Do you go against advice from your shareholders? Your mentor? Your business partner? Your employees?
Do you bet the company on a certain decision? Should we fire this guy? Hire the other one? How do you dismiss half the company?
How can I be in charge of a company that produces such a crappy product? How did we ever get to this point where we can’t pay our staff? How do I get them to keep doing their work nevertheless?
Why does everyone act like little children? Am I crazy? How did I ever think I could handle this job? How do other people do this?
All of these and more, are questions you’ll face when you’re in charge of a company, big or small. The stakes and burden just increase exponentially as the size of the organisation grows.
But there’s one catch.
Prior to the 1998 FIFA World Cup, when he was asked if he was feeling the pressure, goal keeper José Luis Chilavert replied: “Pressure? This is just a football match. When you do not know how to feed your children, that is pressure.”
When I read startup blogs and books, it’s easy to get the impression being an entrepreneur is the most difficult thing in the world. While it might feel like that when you’re in it, there are definitely tougher struggles going on.
You’re (hopefully) working…
- …on something you love.
- …with great people.
- …on a product other people will love.
- …on something which at least pays for your food.
- …on something with a potential big payoff.
The Struggle of an entrepreneur is a privileged one.
A real struggle is when you don’t know how to feed your children by the end of the day. Or whether you might get shot before the sun sets. For most of us, those are not the kind of prospects we’re facing, even if the business goes to hell and you blow all your investors’ money.
So remember, dear fellow entrepreneurs and readers: The Struggle is real, but you’re lucky to be in this struggle and not another one. Don’t forget to enjoy the ride and make the most of it!