The S.W.A.N. Startup
Sacrificing Weekends And Nights
Premises including but not limited to:
1) DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB (Initially!) UNLESS/UNTIL…
[…unless/until you have some RELIABLE OBJECTIVE INDICATORS (of better than average success odds) — full column]
Of course, we all love those startup success stories of entrepreneurs who “risked it all” and/or “left the security of a well-paying job” to pursue their startup dreams. But those successes are the outliers, the rare exceptions. You rarely hear about the MAJORITY of instances where that decision leads to unnecessary pressure/stress/depression and/or prematurely running out of money and/or giving up on that startup dream.
2) The “ALL IN” mandate is both outdated and over-rated. (Initially! Unless/Until…)
- I believe some of the “must be ALL-IN” mindset and rhetoric stems from a time (fairly recently!) before all the cloud services and startup resources that now allow you to do many things in a matter of hours or days that not-too-long-ago would have taken weeks or months — thus allowing you to now build MVPs much faster, cheaper, and (in my opinion) even in a part-time capacity! (For more, read this column on when I think you SHOULD go all-in)
- Yes, when you get to a point where you’re taking VC funding, they will likely require you to be all-in on that particular startup. But we’re talking about way before then — in the pre-funding / pre-revenue / pre-traction / Idea Stage of startups — where ~99% will fail anyway.
- Yes, it would likely be difficult to scale a business into a multi-million dollar company with part-time founders and part-time employees; HOWEVER, and this is important, at the point we’re talking about:
A) You don’t HAVE a business to scale yet! Why not cross that bridge when/if you come to it? Because if you make decisions now (to go ALL IN, full-time) based on what is theoretically best for your theoretical company, a year or more down the theoretical road when/if you actually have a business to grow and scale, well, then you’re making decisions based on something that statistically has a ~99% chance of never even happening either way!
B) We also want to push for entrepreneurs to try to identify whether they are better suited to be a “Startup STARTER” or a “Startup SCALER”
3) Smart investors diversify to mitigate risk; Smart entrepreneurs can too!
Whether a “S.W.A.N. Startup” is in addition to “your real job” (or school!) or even if it’s a second simultaneous startup, the idea of putting Multiple Eggs in Multiple Baskets [MultipleBasketStartups.com] shouldn’t necessarily indicate a lack of commitment or belief in a startup; it simply acknowledges a few tough/practical realities:
A) ~99% of startups fail (despite 100% of founders believing they’ll succeed)
B) Startups are difficult enough without the added stress of “How long can I keep going? How will I pay my rent/mortgage?”
[ C) You can (and probably should) revisit the “all-in / full-time” decision if/when your startup achieves one of the OBJECTIVE INDICATORS — that it has a better-than-average (1%?!) chance for success.]
4) Speed to market can be over-rated.
Is the startup a product/service/industry where “first to market” is a crucial success factor? If not, then yes, you CAN likely do it part-time (sacrificing weekends and nights) with minimal (if any) effect on your likelihood of success. Let’s say that full-time (40 hours? 50 hours?) would get you launched in 3 months; then half-time (20 hours? 25 hours?) would get you launched in 6 months. Not AS fast, but likely still fast enough to not be a deal-breaker — plus you’ve still got the security/income of your other full time job!
5) Working smarter rather than harder is more than a cliche
Ideally, many of our part-time “SWAN Startups” entrepreneurs (partners, managers, marketers, co-founders, etc.) will already be established experts in certain areas (having already spent time learning on the dime of their full-time job) so they can hopefully work faster and more efficiently and we’ll hopefully eliminate some traditional learning curves for first-time entrepreneurs. Additionally, our startups will benefit from such ReThinkingStartups.com strategies as shared resources, economies of scale, a cross-promotional network effect — and will make use of some valuable existing resources and areas of great experience / expertise.
[NOTE: Do you remember how SLOW you were the FIRST time you set up a website, learned Google Analytics and SEO, ran digital marketing campaigns, set up social media strategies/accounts/campaigns and/or learned ANYTHING via trial & error or A/B testing the FIRST time around? SWAN Startups seek people who already DO this stuff full time — so, in many cases, they can manage a second (or third?!) product/website/whatever in a fraction of the time as a first-timer!]
If made a priority, MOST people can find plenty of extra time in their week (particularly those willing to “Sacrifice Weekends And Nights”) to work on on a part-time startup!
In Conclusion / Contact Us / Work With Us!
P.S. Some of us can obviously multi-task more effectively than others. And some of us enjoy variety more than others. But, whether we realize it or not, we ALL have plenty of experience dividing our time and focusing our efforts in multiple directions. Because it wasn’t too long ago that we were all required to do it regularly: