There will be people nodding, before I’ve even finished my first sentence.
Saying startups are hard is a bit like saying climbing Mount Everest is a bit of a hike. The only easy part of the process is the beginning, when you think you can see it all before you. It’s like seeing a finish line in the distance but having absolutely no idea what the race track is like. Believe me, that race track contains hurdles and obstacles that we never even knew existed.
Getting over them though, is part of the process…part of the achievement and actually, part of the fun.
First and foremost, I couldn’t imagine doing this on my own. That just wouldn’t be possible. I’m part of a team that’s different, and that bounces off each other more a Saturday afternoon at a 12 year old’s birthday party. But within those differences, are the tools that make our startup work. If you’re reading this, and you’re racing the startup track on your own, then I envy you, and pity you, all at the same time.
My personal fear of startups, which I assume is normal, is wondering whether I was bringing enough to the table. Entrepreneurs are generally confident people, from the moment we open our first shop in our parent’s front garden. We’re confident, right up to the moment we reach the starting post, and, then we question everything.
Are my dreams outrageous? Are my goals unrealistic? Am I completely overestimating my abilities?
Thankfully, the answer to those questions, is no, but it doesn’t stop me asking them just about every single week.
I’ve heard people say that having a startup is a bit like having a baby (not the actually biological process of course). It’s a good analogy in so far as you can never switch off. There’s no such thing as taking time off from a startup, and if you’re familiar with the Kollect customer service model you’ll know that to be true. When I became a father for the first time there were nights when I’d jump out of the bed, full sure that something terrible had happened to the baby. As it happens, I’ve done that with the startup too. And it was all in my head. Sticking with that baby analogy though, startups also won’t survive without round-the-clock love and attention.
For me, the hardest part of a startup is the unpredictability of it all. To do everything right…to have done all your research and aced your homework, only to be sideswiped by something that you never saw coming, is completely demoralising. It’s also one of the biggest reasons why I prefer to be part of a team. When something hits your plans at 150MPH, your team becomes your seat belt. This is the hardest part though, because we’re all control freaks. The moment I learned that we can’t control everything, and there are valuable things to be learned from those surprises. was the moment that I became just a little bit happier in our startup.
- John O'Connor, CEO of Kollect