More fun, more freedom, more chaos and more learning. That is what you are getting from early days of running a startup. That’s why most the time we are excited to start new ideas every time an opportunity presents itself. “The Startup Life” is like a romantic relationship, the early days are exciting and you feel like you want to have that feeling forever. Like a relationship, after few disappointments and getting to know your partner in detail, we usually question ourselves, how did I get into this mess?
“The Startup Life” is like a marriage, gains and pains come in one package. While you enjoy the freedom of calling the shots, you have to deal with consequences of making wrong ones. That’s why you have a lot of “idea guys” than entrepreneurs. Like marriage, that persistent and discipline to stay committed to your promise is not easy for the faint-hearted people. It’s something that needs to be built with a strong foundation of love and respect, in business terms, passion and belief towards what you do without being delusional when it’s not working.
Three key facts you need to know about “Startup life”;
- “Startup Life” is like college life, nobody stays at the college forever. You learn you move. It’s okay to fail; fail fast, fail cheap and fail responsibly.
- Nothing is real in “Startup Life”, the craziness, the fun all goes away when responsibilities start to fall in, get prepared.
- You can’t bootstrap forever, businesses grow. As much as you love your “Startup Life” you need to graduate and build a business.
Moving from “The Startup Life” to actually running a business it’s not easy because as soon as you make that decision, the excitement of running a startup disappears. No longer fun and freedom, just chaos and learning. Don’t get me wrong, you will still smile but with a lot of sleepless nights. You will post less about yourself on social media and focus on your business. Your life is no longer your life, you have a new boss now, your clients. Actually, new bosses; your clients, your team, your family and yourself.
Like marriages, the ones which lack strong foundation of commitment (love and respect) and flexibility (learning to adopt), they don’t survive. To move your startup from just being a startup to a reliable business you need to build a strong foundation of commitment and flexibility. The best way to attain this is to invest in building systems (refining your business process) and structures (building support mechanisms and people). These systems and structures will carry you through tough times when the excitement stops. When you don’t have rent to pay when you have to do your tax returns when you have to crunch numbers for investors etc.
Most startups stuck in the startup life because they only focus on one ‘P’ of their businesses, the Product. To move from “The Startup Life” to running a real business you need to work on all the 3Ps, People, Process, and Product. To me, most importantly people. They are the one who defines your business process and determines the quality of your product. The chances are, a startup with a great (Idea + Product) but the weak team (People) possibilities of failing are higher compared with a startup with a strong team but weak (Idea + Product). They can always pivot or refine their process with respect to the business (clients) needs. The other variables of a startup such as execution and timing also rely on the team (People) and the approach (Process). Invest time in building your team (who compliments what) and refining your process (what works). Unless you want to be the “The Idea Guy” forever, try to balance the 3Ps.
Move from being “Chief Exhausted Officer” to “Chief Executive Officer”. The only way to do that is by building a strong team and process around your business. Personal advice, grow up. Like a marriage, no one wants to get married to a person with full of fake promises.