On a recent post titled Founder = Learning To Juggle While Riding A Unicycle On A TightRope I recieved the following comment.
Nick, I find your blog interesting. Spectating the process of someone having the guts to go it alone and start their own thing is enlightening plus a curious thing to follow to boot. Regardless of the underlying intention of this blog, I thank you for taking the time and being brave enough to share your feelings as you go through your journey.
What did you do before your became this ‘founder’? In the post above you’re describing a vast majority of jobs, whether it be owning a company, directing a company, managing a team or heading up a department. The general sentiment of this post makes me wonder why you considered starting your own business in the first place. That’s really all you’re doing – starting a business. The same as the plumber down the road who is determined to do it on his own. Attaching the terms ‘founder’ and ‘start up’ to it doesn’t really change it in my mind.
Just because the ‘paper pushers’ get a salary, a monthly wage, a mobile device, a fuel card and any amount of other incentives, it doesn’t mean they’re under any less stress to put out their own fires, to keep their job, to keep their team’s jobs, to impress their boss, to impress their spouse, to continue paying the mortgage, schooling the kids, paying for groceries etc, etc.
We all have to juggle buddy. The difference is, while some of us sit in the corner waiting to be hugged, some of us simply add ‘hugging the sad-looking guy in the corner’ to our ever increasing todo list.
Step up mate. If you’re struggling to juggle, perhaps you need to leave the circus? If this response is out of line with the purpose of your post, I apologise. But take a second to consider the sentiment of what you’re putting out there and the effect it might have on your growing number of readers.
Keep up the awesome work and just keep swimming!
Below is my response:
Thanks for the reply and I appreciate your response. And I am glad you are enjoying the journey with me. However, maybe something was lost in translation and I possibly missed a few things as I wrote this morning. Please read this as a neutral response. The point of the post is twofold.
First, there is a hell of a difference between an owner/founder and an employee – namely the fact that all most all parts of the business rest solely on the founders/owners shoulders. This is typically not the case when you are an employee, especially as the organization grows. (and yes I have been an employee in large and small organizations before, that’s actually what influenced me to start my own company). This perspective can be referred to as Owner vs Employee mentality and it’s not for the faint of heart. And I am not even including all the stuff you mention everyone must now juggle “to keep their job, to keep their team’s jobs, to impress their boss, to impress their spouse, to continue paying the mortgage, schooling the kids, paying for groceries etc, etc.”
Second, using the analogy of learning to juggle while riding a unicycle on a tightrope is to say you have to pretty much learn everything on your own, typically numerous things at once, trial and error as a founder. There’s no owners manual to founding a company, kinda like there’s no magic “lose 50 pounds” diet pill. Startup is no easy task and one of the reasons why most of us never venture out on our own. Employees are trained to do a specific job and have someone (boss, manager, owner) to rely on when things get too difficult or become “over their head” if you will. They have safety nets who can take on the problem if need be and for lack of a better term “wipe their hands clean” at the end of the day since it’s not their company.
I guess a third point is simply the fact that founding a company is damn hard and something I look to grind through towards growth and success. I started on this path because it’s a healthy challenge and allows me to appreciate what life presents when you take it into your own hands. And nope, this circus ain’t leaving anytime soon.
I write bluntly and truthfully for readers – for better or worse. My goal is to open up the black box of entrepreneurship and give people a better perspective, those who may be fascinated with it but have never made the leap themselves. Is it sometimes hard to digest? For sure. But that’s entrepreneurship. Part of the motivation in my writing style is to help readers gain a better appreciation for entrepreneurs and the struggles we go through, and maybe to educate people on the decision they may or may not be contemplating at the moment. Just like life, it’s quite messy.
As you can see, I write with unbashing honesty, authenticity and realness because I believe current and future entrepreneurs deserve it. I also write with such perspective because quite a few readers of this blog are not actually entrepreneurs and this seems to be the only way I can accurately communicate to them what we go through on a daily basis. Some are my family and friends that at times I am sure they ask themselves what the hell we are doing.
The point of SoEntrepreneurial is (and has always been) to illustrate and communicate the entrepreneurial journey is words maybe not heard anywhere else. No, starting a company is not like being an employee no matter how much the above commenter believes it is. It’s everything they describe – and a hell of a lot more. And starting a tech company is defineltiy more difficult than becoming a plumber or other service provider who create their own company, namely because when starting a technology company you first have to determine what you are going to do and then build your product out of thin air. Only after you have done those things can you then go find customers who want to use it! Come to think of it, if your life and job is equally stressful as being an entrepreneur, I would encourage you to at least put yourself in a position where you are creating equity and ownership in what you do on a day to day basis. Then you can at least justify to yourself why you are working so damn hard.
If you read popular tech blogs, you’ll read way too much about the lavishing riches and wealth founders’ of companies encounter, as well as all the posts about how another early startup creating a Groupon copycat (ok, maybe a year or two ago) raised millions of investment without any proven market traction.
Like it or not, that is not real life as a startup just as the tabloids or TMZ is not real life. That’t the 1%. The rest of us 99% tough it out and have to prove it over the long haul. It would be a disservice to potential founders if they did not hear the truth from the source.
It sounds as if things I say or the descriptive words I use to write may be offending some people or might cut too close to the bone. I am sorry if that is the case, but I also feel it’s not really my problem if I offend people. I know I am doing a service with the words I write, and I am not purposefully out to harm any one person or group of people when I do it. My intent is to educate and inform through words just as a producer of a documentary would with moving pictures on a screen. If those words agitate or disturb in any way, well maybe it’s time to look in the mirror.
In any case, I will continue to write with open honesty and authentic voice. You, as the reader deserve it. You deserve to actually feel what its like to start a company out of thin air and grow it from the ground up. You deserve to go through the good times and the bad. You deserve to hear a fair and balanced perspective on technology and starting a company from someone who didn’t go to Stanford, work at Google or come from the lucky sperm club. Absolutely, you deserve to hear how a normal guy, with no real starting advantage over the competition can grind it out and become successful with his startup.
Because if he can do it, so can you. That’s what SoEntrepreneurial is all about.