Somehow, late last night, I was pointed to the first ever blog post of Marc Andreessen – co-founder of Netscape and Ning – entitled: “Why you shouldn’t start a startup“. It listed eight reasons why you would be out of your mind to think about starting up new companies.
I particularly loved his first two points …
First, and most importantly, realize that a startup puts you on an emotional rollercoaster unlike anything you have ever experienced.
You will flip rapidly from a day in which you are euphorically convinced you are going to own the world, to a day in which doom seems only weeks away and you feel completely ruined, and back again.
Over and over and over.
Second, in a startup, absolutely nothing happens unless you make it happen.
This one throws both founders and employees new to startups.
In an established company — no matter how poorly run or demoralized — things happen. They just happen. People come in to work. Code gets written. User interfaces get designed. Servers get provisioned. Markets get analyzed. Pricing gets studied and determined. Sales calls get made. The wastebaskets get emptied. And so on.
A startup has none of the established systems, rhythms, infrastructure that any established company has.
In a startup it is very easy for the code to not get written, for the user interfaces to not get designed… for people to not come into work… and for the wastebaskets to not get emptied.
You as the founder have to put all of these systems and routines and habits in place and get everyone actually rowing — forget even about rowing in the right direction: just rowing at all is hard enough at the start.
And until you do, absolutely nothing happens.
Unless, of course, you do it yourself.
Have fun emptying those wastebaskets.
He’s right. Being in a startup puts you through an emotional rollercoaster where you go from being crazy stressed, to thinking that you’re the next Bill Gates and rarely in-between.
Andressen is also right about the fact that you’re the one that has to do the driving. Even when the chips seem down, you’ve got to still plod on.
All this takes its toll.
Even Andressen himself doesn’t have any advice: so I don’t think I’m qualified enough to give any. But I think its worth commenting that it’s great to see meetups like the Launch.ed’s New Venture Group, or the Tech Law for Startup groups forming because they provide places for honest, startup-to-startup support to each other. Of course, the grand pipe dream would be a great incubator like TechHub Edinburgh – but we can dream.
In the meantime, maybe as a small gesture, the next time you see a startup founder, tell them a joke or give them a hug. P.S. This could possibly be the most hippy thing I’ve never written, but being nice is never a bad thing …