Why startups are hard: It’s all you.


One of the hardest things about a startup is that the buck stops with you.

With a very small team and a brand new product/service, there are no balls rolling and there are no pressing deadlines – until you create them. Clients not calling? Call them. No one coming to your website? Promote it more and get it out there.

It’s this responsibility that makes it so frikken hard to start a company. They call it the hustle. And all you do, all day, is hustle hustle hustle.

One of the most important things for a tech startup is to get your product in front of customers. (It’s that whole Product/Market fit thing that you’ve got to try and work out as quickly as possible.) If you don’t have a product yet, pitch the idea. See if you can get people to sign up or agree to terms then go and build it. Fast. Cold calling really sucks but it’s one of the best ways to start talking to people about their needs and what you can do to solve them.

This is one of the biggest hurdles to get over in the early days of a startup. It’s because you don’t have a benchmark and have nothing to compare what you should be doing to. It’s those awkward moments when you’re talking to a customer and have never had to pitch it in this way before. You’re making it up on the fly and everything you are saying is a test for the person’s reactions. Say one thing wrong, price it too high or mention the wrong features or benefits and this potential customer is about to become another failed lead.

One wrong step and you fail. Then you pick yourself up and try again. (Probably to fail again.) It’s this cycle that makes it hard. When it’s a slow moving corporate cycle, it’s even worse.

Keeping motivation through the first couple of months is a serious challenge. Don’t underestimate it. Just remember that it’s all up to you – and get on with it.
[Note: These are my thoughts. If you want the real deal, I recommend reading this post by Paul Graham on ‘What startups are really like.‘ or browse WWPGD.com]

3 thoughts on “Why startups are hard: It’s all you.

  1. Great article Shayan! You need to have guts to start a cnmoapy more than anything else (specially if it’s not a web cnmoapy). The funny thing is that you never hear the other side of the story, from people that tried a few times and failed every single time. I don’t think those guys that kept failing ever get the invitation to write an article with big audience. Something for Forbes to think about maybe! And by the way, where do we find those people that failed and failed and haven’t made it yet? Where are they? Who knows them?!!!

  2. Definitely both posts are worth reading. I had to come to these key ideas by myself and I can confrim that motivation is one of the things that help running the hard project. And I agree with Nolan at some point – it would be helpful to hear stories from the ones that failed. However, stories really worth reading are the ones who succeeded at the end since they may tell not only what went wrong, but also how to overcome all the obstacles.

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