Sometimes you have to kill your darling

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Sometimes you have to kill your darling

 

(Source: foundertherapy.co

An entrepreneur passion, perseverance and the drive to make the world a better place. They are the personification of the ‘never give up, never say die’ attitude. For an aspiring entrepreneur, the startup world is filled with stories of great success achieved through perseverance. Even the news media is abuzz with articles that tell you that in entrepreneurship, failure is not an option, that in time, success will come to those who are driven.

Sadly, the harsh reality for entrepreneurs is that 90 per cent of ventures will fail within the first year. However, this has not deterred entrepreneurs from dreaming big, hoping that they will be one of the lucky ones, and this optimism in the startup world has shrouded the topic of closing one’s startup. Closing down a business and giving up on the potential that inspired you to launch it in the first place is perhaps the hardest thing an entrepreneur has to do. By nature, entrepreneurs see setbacks simply as problems whose solutions aren’t yet evident. That same quality has steered them away from talking about when to close their business and addressing the fact that sometimes all you can do is move on.

 

Kill it before it kills you

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The hidden secret among many entrepreneurs is the price they pay for their choices. The demands of business ownership place entrepreneurs at a higher risk of mental and physical health problems. Although it might look like sitting in front of a laptop all day is barely a cause for concern, the mental stress can wreak havoc on the body and mind. Entrepreneurs are known to suffer from eating disorders, insomnia, depression, self-worth issues, anxiety and addiction. These are just some of the well-researched symptoms; we know that a medley of bad things can happen to people under constant stress. Sometimes, the stress of this lifestyle can take a turn for the worst and even lead to a high risk of suicide. Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec recently revealed that he contemplated suicide last summer due to the constant pressure of the business and the breakup of his marriage. If you feel like you’re dying, then stop. Let the startup die before you do.

 

...but we are going to keep working on the startup 

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One of the most common characteristics of a successful startup is that for the founders, the startup was their life. They have risked it all for this one idea they believe in, and there is no fall back plan.Distraction is fatal to startups. Paul Graham, the founder of Y-Combinator, says, the number one thing not to do for startups is other things. If you find yourself saying a sentence that ends with “but we're going to keep working on the startup,” you are in big trouble. You may as well just translate this to “we're giving up on the startup, but we're not willing to admit that to ourselves,” because that's what it means most of the time. If you're only doing a startup, then if the startup fails, you fail. If you're in grad school and your startup fails, you can say later “Oh yeah, we had this startup on the side when I was in grad school, but it didn't go anywhere.”

 

Pull the plug when no one is excited

(Source: www.cbinsight.com

A startup has to generate some level of buzz in order to be successful in a cold world. One of the reasons why Elon Musk has been able to generate huge funding and ultimate startup success is because his ideas excite everyone. Commercial space travel? Renewable energy? Cars that don’t need maintenance? Trips from San Francisco to Los Angeles in thirty minutes? His ideas push the boundaries of human imagination, so they’re something that everyone wants to get behind. Startups don’t need to measure up to the standards set by Elon Musk, but if your idea interests no one, it might be time to reconsider it. It is a rule of thumb in the industry that initial ideas are mostly bad. However, if you cannot create a want for your product even after tweaking it, then maybe your solution is not what the market is looking for. Furthermore, investors look for businesses that can attract hordes of loyal customers; not being able to do that means that you will not receive investment to run the company.

 

When everyone else leaves, you leave

(Source: 3.bp.blogspot.com

If everyone walks away from the startup, then there clearly is a huge problem. Wherever the problem may lie, if the team starts to part ways, it’s a sure sign that the startup is going to die. No one can do it solo. Leo Laporte, founder of TWiT network, regrets thinking that he could handle running the startup on his own, even after his team had left him. “I thought my years of experience in the field would sustain the business until I hired someone else. However, I spent most of my time fighting fires than doing what I love,” says Laporte. Entrepreneurship is not meant for one person. Behind every Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs are hundreds of people toiling for them. Most people work for startups knowing that life is going to be an uphill battle for a while. The pay isn’t great. The hours are horrendous. The stress is more than the human body can handle. However, they still work, hoping that the future rewards will be more than worth it. If the entire team loses sight of the reward and walks away, it is an indication that they have stopped believing in the founder or in the purpose of the startup. The startup world is a challenging one. There’s no question about that. A founder’s duty is to persevere when the odds are stacked against his business. However, this does not mean being blind to the signs. Keep in mind, though, that every startup is unique, and if you are dealing with only one of these warning signs, then it may not be time to pull the plug.

 

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Guest Thursday, 11 August 2022