You will get a lot of advice, when you start your company.
You will get a lot of advice from many different people: friends, family, employees, old bosses, your co-founders, other founders, board members, customers, books… endless advice.
Here is the best advice I ever got, and I keep hearing from others it was their best advice as well.
The best advice is:
Its never as bad as you think it is.
When bad news hits you, at first, it may seem like the end of the world. Give it 24 hours, and maybe 48 hours… it will never bet be as bad as you originally thought. Never.
Founders are in a unique situation, where their success or failure affects many different aspects of their lives.
It is not only a financial success or failure. It is not only the shame and guilt of letting other people down: investors, employees, family, and yourself.
It is not only the risk and fear of never getting funded again. It is not only the risk of living with a scar that will haunt you forever.
It is not only the worry of going back to your old boss and begging for your old job, and be constantly told “I told you so…”
It is all of these and much much more that are tied up with the success or failure of a startup.
Thus, any situation that casts shadow on the future success, is immediately translated to fear of death, fight or flight and creates stress.
Startups are never moving in a straight line, up into the right, without their trials and tribulations. Never. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.
There will ALWAYS be ups and downs, a roller-coaster of emotions resulting from the little victories and big let-downs.
It just how it goes.
For example, You will be told that an investor decided to pull out in the last minute. You will experience a customer who decides to go with a competitor, or worse – copy your invention.
There are bad days of all kind of flavors:
You had a tough board meeting
Employee embezzled company money
You missed your quarter
Co-founder left to start a competitor
A patent troll sent you a fun letter to read
Your sales person promised a product you don’t have
A channel partner thinks you sold around them
A patent examiner insists your invention is “obvious”
You need to RIF half of the team in order to survive
[Enter your bad day horror story here]
If you can remember this one piece of advice, you may have a more pleasant journey: don’t let the highs be too high, and don’t let the lows be too low.
Because its never as bad as you think it is.
Because no matter how bad it is at work, and what are the implications of it in your mind – you go home at the end of the day.
You go home to a spouse that loves you, to kids who love you, to friends who love you. No matter how bad things are at work.
You did not end the day with an incurable disease. You did not lose any body parts, no one died and so on.
When you think about it this way, in perspective, its just a bump in the road.