Founding a tech start-up is insanely exciting and at times, completely terrifying.
The speed, oh man. The speed things are moving is mental but you’re somehow still constantly anxious about everything taking too long.
People are giving you a thousand different opinions about the best way to scale, the best time to take investment, the best way to do anything. And somehow, every other founder you talk to seems to have it all together.
“We hired four new devs yesterday who’ve already rebuilt our entire system from scratch”
“Yeah, this never feels like ‘work’ to me. I just never doubt what we’re doing, you know?”
We were all at a tech conference a while back, feeling the usual mix of inspired and skeptical about the procession of ‘everything’s rosy’ case studies being trotted across the stage. And then a guy walked out onto the stage. Normal looking dude. No flash prezi, no google glass, no fancy suit or strange Silicon Valley barefeet look. Just a normal, confident, friendly looking man.
This guy just started talking about how his business had gone under and what the past year had looked like for him. He shared their growth strategy, the tech they’d developed, the massive wins that had stuck them on a trajectory they couldn’t keep up with. He talked about the spiral of debt they got trapped in, the process of liquidation and how he’d spent the past year contracting to pay back those debts and scrambling to gain the confidence and footing to try again.
Don’t get me wrong. This guy wasn’t looking for pity and this wasn’t his first time at the rodeo. He’d won and lost at the start-up game before.
No, he was sharing his story so openly because he realizes something gold: We’re stronger as a team and teams share honestly.
You see, NZ is tiny and ages away from anywhere. If we’re serious about making this place the Valley of the Pacific, we need to be focused on helping each other stay afloat, not just ourselves.
My mate, the normal dude, made a brave leap in the unknown, and got smashed against a rock. Rather than learn his lessons, squirrel them away and use them to further only himself, he wanted to let everyone else know ‘Hey guys, there are big rocks that way. Don’t make the same mistakes I did or you’ll get thrown into them’.
People talk about the only failure in failure being an inability to learn a lesson, and change tack quickly. I’d add to that choosing not to chuck up a quick lighthouse, so the guys coming up alongside you don’t get stuck on the same rocks.
So we’re pledging right here that as we grow this year, we’re going to throw up lighthouses along our way, and maybe a few flashing arrows to paths we’ve found that are gloriously rock-free.
Will you do the same?