Be emotionally strong

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After reading 60+ postmortems like this and this and this, I was surprised by how emotional the journey of a failed startup is.

I expected to see things like “our MVP was wrong,” and “we never talked to customers.” I did see those things, but it was the emotional responses that surprised me most.

The advice to “fail often and fail fast” doesn’t address the emotional leg of the startup stool.

Failing at a startup is like telling someone “I Love You,” and they say, “Okay.”

You put everything out there and get nothing in return. That’s what a failing startup feels like.

And you can’t just “be cheerful” or “suck it up” anymore than you can “just write great copy” or “figure out what the customer wants.” Duh, if I knew to do that I would have just done it. Silver bullets don’t exist for black box problems.

Emotional setbacks are part of the constant stream of challenges a startup needs to deal with. You have a bucket to bail out a sinking ship and the emotional leak never feels like it’s that important.

Except it is.

If you are a founder, or want to be a founder, you have to be ready to face the emotional challenges alongside the others. It can’t be something you permanently shut away or it will come back at the worst time.

Don’t be like the big guy.

Your mental balance needs to be a line item next to respond to customer email or contact vendor about distribution.

Customer support and distribution are both things you need to get right if you want to found a company, but so is your health.

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