Never Give Up. Never Throw in the Towel.
Look, not to be a pessimist here, but no matter how good things are going for you or your company, even if you’ve been on a run of good luck for a good while, you’re bound to hit a bottleneck or six sooner or later. Call it summertime blues (the last week of August tends to be a deadzone for investment and action), or call it karma, it’s just a fact of life.
It’s all too easy to get pessimistic and be blind to any silver lining. After all it never feels good to have people criticize you or your project. From personal experience in Epilogger’s earlier days, I can share that it’s hard when possible investors pretty much send you packing. You wonder if your pitch deck needs work, start to toy with the prospect of taking all that advice you’ve been getting in changing features or the direction of your product or life, or even question your fitness to continue doing what you do. Substitute “investors” for “supporters” and the same queasy feeling may come over you whether you’re a CEO, a CTO, blogger, salesperson, athlete, or artist. People love support and can do great things when the world strokes their egos. The true test of character, however, is when the gravy train stops and it’s just you and the open tracks.
Don’t give up. Trust me on this one. Tenacity is the ultimate form of optimism. No one knows what you’re capable of like you do. No one knows your business like you do. Know one knows your limits like you do. No one wants you to succeed more than you do. Being an entrepreneur can REALLY suck sometimes but that’s the sacrifice we make to try to change the world. I’ve said it before in this post. If one was to ask me what the common x-factor is among all successful people, I would say it’s tenacity. Many people who saw “The Social Network” think that Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook at Harvard, met Sean Parker and got investment and fame over night on the heads of Eduardo Saverin and the Winklevi. The real story of Facebook is that Zuckerberg got turned down by numerous investors before finally landing his VC. Some told him to give up and that it would never fly. How’s that working out? You have the vision, make the world believe it by executing.
Don’t confuse tenacity with plain old stubbornness though. There are legitimate cases where people just have a genuinely crappy idea that needs to fail. Usually the bad idea is due to lack of due diligence (Is this even needed? Is there at least a niche market? Did someone already do the exact same thing?) A few episodes of Shark’s Tank or Dragon’s Den should paint you a good picture of what I mean.
Get advice but always take it with a grain of salt. Ask whether the source of advice is playing with a full deck and has the right experience. Celebrity does NOT make expertise. You could be talking to the most well known though leader in internet security who has sold his/her company for a bajillion dollars, but if that person would need buy into what you’re doing/selling and has no understanding of it, keep that in mind before panicking and changing it all. There’s a difference between opinion and advice – one is criticism, the other is constructive. So take advice from people who you really trust and want what’s best for you. I can count on one hand who those people are in my life and you can be sure that those will always be kept close. They have helped me profoundly.
You are NEVER alone:
The world is more social now. As such businesses have changed and communities have become more tight knit. What’s really great is that there are now more people and programs that are willing to help you solve a myriad of problems that every entrepreneur faces at different stages. If you don’t know something, ASK SOMEBODY! Don’t worry about looking stupid because I guarantee you that you will look even stupider when negligence to learn something important comes to bear in an important situation. Get social and get out there. I learned a lot from my advisors, but to get to the level where their advice made sense, I had to go back to basics. I enrolled in the MaRS program, signed Epilogger up for Founderfuel, read books, attended tech meet meetups, and pulled the right contacts to get me to the right people to teach my dumb ass the things I didn’t know jack about.
You are not alone If you were ever stranded at sea or on a desert island you would do everything you could to signal for help. Apply the same logic to your startup, your art, and especially your life.
Comments are closed.