I often get asked what it’s like launching a startup and I tend use this analogy – imagine you have a really big steam roller in front of you, it’s out of fuel and you know you’ve got to move it under your own power – that’s really daunting and is just what it’s like. Whether you are on your own working in your bedroom, or with others in Starbucks, if you’re serious about trying to build a business it’s analogically like a steam roller or even bigger.
Once you’ve had your startup idea, and most probably done work convincing yourself there’s merit in the idea, the next thing you’ve got to do is convince other people that your idea is worth hunkering down for. It’s hard to move that steamroller on your own but a team of people have a much greater chance of success.
Moving that steamroller, as with starting a business, doesn’t have to be an unhappy or stressful process. You should enjoy the challenges of working out how to move it. Some will say use levers, others may suggest fuel, will the engine start, where will you get the fuel money from…
You probably get a sense of the scale of the job now. When I set out years ago I knew that what I was trying to do was a big challenge but I had no idea how tough it would be, and frankly it wouldn’t have made any difference. While I don’t call myself an entrepreneur I am definitely entrepreneurial, I had and still have the passion and the drive to do what I do.
During a startup there are moments of sheer despair ranging from anyone casting doubts on your idea, an unknown competitor surfaces, a friend says you’re barking, an investor says no and so on. There are also moments of giddy elation when someone uses the system/product you’ve built, which then turn into phenomenal moments of euphoria when someone actually pays money for it!
Ride the waves of emotion and stay focused, it may be raining but the steamroller is still in front of you and you need to move it. In fact the rain might help! The ground is slippery so maybe it’ll move a bit easier. You need to try and use every ounce of positive and negative emotion to make sure you’re focused on the end game.
So, you build a team, maybe you get some fuel money, you get things moving. Does it mean you’ll make it? Maybe, maybe not, the fuel could run out, the team may lose energy or focus or be distracted by another’s quest, or more people may join in and the thing gets some speed up.
Suddenly you get the momentum you’ve craved, the steamroller is moving and you’re making a road. What’s that? No one’s on the road? Do they even know you’ve built a road? No? Well get on and tell them, you should have started to tell them before it was ready… Oh you did and it wasn’t ready, OK.
Momentum is a great thing, vital obviously. Before you had it, if you took time out, the steam roller wasn’t moving so it didn’t matter. But now it’s moving it’ll just pull you along, and that carries with it a whole new set of issues to deal with.
The first six months of running a startup are tough, at times bleak and miserable, lonely, hard work, and will stretch you beyond belief. At the same time, they’re probably the best moments you’ll ever experience in your working life.
Robin Brattel is Founder and CEO of Eventility.com, the easy-to-use website to help organise and promote events, clubs, groups, communities, places and businesses.
It is built by organisers for organisers, to remove the pain and hassle of managing and promoting any activity, however large or small. With powerful organisation and promotion tools, everything you need to organise and manage is in one place, perfect for building online communities – free for groups and offering significant value for money for businesses.