OK, so you got your heart set on a startup? I guess I better tell you what to expect. But first, you’d best get acquainted with the 3 primary people involved in startups. Allow me to introduce them to you. They are; founders, investors and employees. One thing I say is that all 3 types have a common attribute – an entrepreneurial spirit. There are advantages and disadvantages of being each one of these entrepreneurs.
Some people function better as employees. I want to stress there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being an employee. In fact, several successful founders have told me that being an employee is the sane option. If you think it would be better to be a founder, just ask the CEO who they are accountable to – everyone!
Anyway, at least you don’t have to explain to investors that your company’s new Face-Ta-Gram App is 6 months behind schedule. You’re the strategy, coding or graphics mastermind who is busy planning for growth, wire framing or working on the UI.
Think about it. You don’t have to fire people. You don’t have to pay overheads. You just turn-up to work at 10:30 (or whenever) and mosey out of the office at 5. Ha ha – yeh, right!
Seriously, there are some pressures with being an employee. Well, maybe better described as ‘tolerances’ – such as explaining to the nosey investor, why you can’t just press a button to migrate your SaaS platform to AWS instantly. Or explaining to the new manager, who was hand-picked from the CEO’s own gene pool, the importance of code version control.
There are also deadlines you need to meet. But they’re not so bad are they? I mean, you are reminded each hour by the manager and the manager’s manager. I know, I know, it can be challenging – if they just left you alone for 5 minutes, you could get the job done.
When you think about it, many employees have the best of both worlds. You may have stock options, regular income plus you’re not accepting too much risk – apart from your time.
Employees are fortunate because they usually get very flexible working hours. I know some employees who have day jobs and have committed to 10 hours per week on social media, support, UX/UI services. Now that’s what I call a sweet deal.
Many employees who exchange some of their time for company shares, don’t mind the risk because they are learning new skills while expanding their network. So the potential downside is not so bad, when compared with the potential upside. I mean, imagine being Google’s employee numb – or ever 1 – or even number 100.
If you are an employee reading this book, remember, you are almost certainly the sane one – so congratulations!
The big bosses, the captains of the ship – the buck stops with you. Now wouldn’t that be a dream? Now, back to reality. The reality is that founders are the ones who answer to everyone.
“People have this vision of being the CEO of a company they started and being on top of the pyramid. Some people are motivated by that, but that’s not at all what it’s like. What it’s really like: everyone else is your boss – all of your employees, customers, partners, users, media are your boss. I’ve never had more bosses and needed to account for more people today. The life of most CEOs is reporting to everyone else, at least that’s what it feels like to me and most CEOs I know. If you want to exercise power and authority over people, join the military or go into politics. Don’t be an entrepreneur”.
Phil Libin, Founder of Evernote.
Founders in startups require the skills of UN diplomat. They need to be understanding of employees’ mid-morning starts and give props for their Sunday night sprints. They need to gently advise investors that their ‘ideas’ on marketing will be shelved for the time-being and they must beg the coveted coders not to take their holidays accrued 2 months holiday at once.
One thing that a founder must have is passion. That passion and enthusiasm is what permeates through the company. You are responsible and you’re a leader.
If you are considering forming your own startup it is important that you get used to the idea of pressure, fatigue and responsibility. Before embarking on this epic journey, you must think long and hard about whether you are really cut out for the late nights, meetings, company management, hiring and firing and of course, the regular setbacks.
If you think it’s going to be glamorous forget it. If it is your passion, you are determined and you want to lay it on the line then roll up your sleeves, then go for it!
Have you gone completely mad? What the hell are you doing investing in startups? Didn’t you learn from the Dot Com Bubble? What’s wrong with you?
Seriously though, you could be onto some massive profits. Like Ronald Wayne could have been. Ronald was a cofounder in Apple who’s shares today would have been worth $95 billion – that is; if he didn’t sell them back to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak for $800 in 1987. Now there’s a lesson in commitment!
Forget the Dot Com Bubble, that was 20 years ago. Investors know what they are talking about now, to the grief of founders everywhere who are trying to raise capital.
Investors in startups have a lot to be positive about in Australia. There have been some gem startups come out of the blocks in Australia such as Atlassian, Canva, 99 Designs, Campaign Monitor and more.
Now who’s a crazy investor eh? Not to mention that you didn’t have to work every night for 3 years to do it! Clever you.