Being a founder is often hard to describe. When you are asked, “what do you do” at parties or other social events, it’s easier to brush it off and not bring up the fact that you are a founder of your own company, just so you don’t have to go into how crazy it is. When they realize you are a “founder” and you have a “startup”, it’s quite impressive to them. They think it’s all glitz and glamor. ”Oh” they say, “that must be really fun!” They think you make a ton of money and instantly give you more credit than you deserve. They almost give you rock star status.
Or, ironically, they don’t give you enough credit.
The problem is they have no clue what you are going through and what it took just to get to where you are right now. They have no idea how much you gave up to get here. They don’t understand you don’t go back to a desk in an building owned by the company you work for, push some pieces of paper around, report to a boss, provided daily meals by your employer, given a shiny mobile device and a cushy salary with benefits.
They don’t actually realize NONE of that is included. They have no idea you have given up everything in your life for this moment.
They also have no idea being a founder is like learning to juggle while riding a unicycle on a tightrope.
Why would I use such an analogy?
Most people’s idea of a founder is Steve Jobs – Miraculous. Incredible. Innovator. Charismatic. Leader. Someone who’s all put together and very wealthy. Use whatever descriptive words you want but they will be wrong.
Sorry to ruin the fun, but as founders we are generally running around like a chicken with our heads cut off trying to put out the latest fire threatening to burn down our dream. Most things presented to you will be foreign and scary as hell to fix. Customers will leave you. Investors will say no. Tech will fail. Team members will leave. Bank accounts will go dry. And that’s just par for the course each day.
Most of the time you have no idea what you are doing or what the right move is, you are just putting one foot in front of the other and feeling your way around the dark room.
It’s feels like this: you attend to one thing, and just when you think you have it figured out another thing pops up. So now you have two things to look over and figure out. Yet before you know it, instantly another issue arises. But this one is specifically attached to how you actually make money so you must drop everything else and go figure it out. Hopefully, once you get that figured out you remember what the last issue was so you can return and fix it.
Learning. To. Juggle. While. Riding. A. Unicycle. On. A. TightRope.
Yes, it feels that tiring each and every day. Next time you find out someone is a founder, please just give them a hug and ask them what you can do to help.
And you know what? Juggling and riding unicycles also have their benefits and the analogy works the other way. More on that topic at a later date.