The unsexy side of startups

A discussion I had with friends triggered this post!

To them, what I did after quitting my job appears cool.

It’s cool to be able to say that you run your own company! Right?

That you neither have a boss nor an appraisal every year!

That you are the master of your own destiny!

And there are no more Monday blues!!

Yup. I think it is awesome to say yes to those questions. However, beneath the cool exterior, there’s a different beast. There’s reality to boot!

As I look back now, I really feel it’s a lot easier to just be an employee. Or just put up with your boss and enjoy your life.

Doing a startup is a lot tougher. If you want coolness quotient or recurring revenues without having to work hard, don’t fool around with running your own company.

Running a company is a challenging job. Let me give you a list.

  • you’ve to go through emotions in first 6 months of not having a salary, esp on salary day
  • people will rather think you were fired than buy your story of doing a startup
  • you need to figure out what to do
  • you may never figure that out
  • if you somehow do, you need to figure out how to do it
  • and you still might not get it at all
  • or no one will ever use what you built
  • or will use, but never pay for it
  • people will comment on your startup and say you are stupid
  • your friends and colleagues just got a salary hike and your bank balance is going southwards
  • you are working 16-18 hours a day and probably look tired all the time
  • you have no social life
  • if you have users, you need to figure out if it can scale
  • if you need to scale, you need quality employees
  • employees are not easy to find
  • employees quit
  • you have to deal with govt offices for mundane paperwork
  • you will make mistakes and that will bite. You need to take it as a lesson and move on.
  • your mood changes frequently and you have to pretend to be saner than you are
  • you need to motivate your employees and you may be in a situation of needing some yourself
  • shit can happen
  • more shit can happen
  • at times, you will need to cleanup your mess and start again
  • there’s more… its a huge list. I guess you got it by now. I will stop :).
Unless you are extremely lucky, you will go through the above for sure. And once you cross all that, you’d have just crossed the first stage of starting-up. The actual story begins after that.

I can tell you from my experience that it is very exciting. But it is neither cool nor sexy.

Most of you reading this post will read and shrug it off. You’d rather experience it yourself than read someone else write about it.

Go ahead. Do your own startup. However, remember, its not cool.

3 thoughts on “The unsexy side of startups

  1. Its sounds cool Prem. From the little i have known about you during the my days in Ness, I feel good about a person living in this country challenging to chase his dream of starting a company of own.
    Wish you all Best for what you do 🙂

  2. This is an eye opener. It was yesterday that i met a bunch of my friends who are on a start-up and i really felt it is cool being CEO’s of company and updating Facebook info as ‘Founder at…’. I must confess, i also made a joke or two on them and failed to see the bitter tinge in their eyes. I will call them up for an apology.

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