Waiting is Excruciating

One aspect of starting a company that few talk about, is the waiting involved.

Especially in the early days (which could be years), until the company gets to breakeven and knows it can survive.

For first time founders, this waiting game can be, and often is – excruciating.


If you think about the sum of the meaning of starting a company, and the resulting pain, shame, disappointment and heartache of failure… you get the picture.

The weight of the world is on the shoulders of the founder. He or she have taken the plunge, have jumped from the plane – and now will do everything to make the parachute open.

They have their investors’ money at risk, and want to make good on the promise to return it, and then some. If the founder has character, and the responsibility they ought to have – they are worried sick every day there is no conclusive evidence they may NOT be able to return the millions they borrowed.

They have their employees and their families depending on the startup to succeed, so they can pay their bills, have healthcare, take a vacation… maybe save for college.

They have their parents and family/friends who are worried about the founder’s well-being, and really don’t want to see them fall on their face. They are hoping for the best, yet expecting the worst. The founder really don’t want to be in the “I told you so” conversation, after they lose it all, and maybe some of their closest family money.

They have themselves, they need to look in the mirror and live with the consequences of their broken promises, hopes and dreams. It is not easy. Not everyone can “shake it off” and move on to the next venture. It took guts to jump without knowing if the parachute will open the first time, so doing it again after a crash and near-death experience – is not for everyone.

Having your startup fail is not just about business. It is not just about investors’ money. It is often a collection of everything that matters to the founder, their livelihood. Some may get depressed for a long while and may never recover from the fall.

Why am I writing all this?

Startups are not for everyone. The stress you go through and the uncertainty, are not for everyone.

So every day you wait to hear if a product will work or not… if a customer will buy or not… if your competitor is getting ahead in a sales cycle… if an investor will give you more money… if…

Every day is a waiting game for SOMETHING. If you are not good with waiting for a verdict, and it causes you physical distress and emotional turmoil – you should probably not go on this adventure.

I know of at least one startup CEO who committed suicide, as they could not handle the pressure. I know of at least one CEO, who at their first board meeting felt so sick, blood began flowing from their ear.

We want to please, we want to come to a board meeting with some great pyrotechnics and good news.

But the hard reality is that 9 of 10 startups fail. Not because of you necessarily. So, having your name and livelihood tied to something that is MOST LIKELY GOING TO FAIL, is not for everyone.

If waiting for news in general is driving you mad… think about it as you ponder the question: Do I really want to be a startup founder?

References and quotes:

Here’s How to Make Waiting A Little Less Excruciating