Startup Idealism

It’s 7pm on a Saturday night. I find myself picking at a cheese spread I made while I sip my finely aged wine that I acquired last summer in Napa on a wine tour. I’m preparing for a well deserved night out with my significant other and friends to celebrate the launch of my company. I deserve this! I LAUNCHED MY OWN COMPANY. You complain about your boss’ coffee breath and flat jokes and how one day you are going to “stick it to the man”….well I AM the man.

And because I am “the man”, nothing in that previous paragraph is accurate. Let’s talk about my actual reality. It’s 7pm on a Saturday night and I’m sitting in my bathtub writing this article because we need content for branding. I haven’t been out since New Years Eve, the night before our launch. As an owner of a startup who can’t fund a marketing director until at least Q4, this leaves yours truly to get down and dirty with her laptop.  

It’s funny though. Rarely do you ever hear about the actual work behind the C-level status. Everyone is just so obsessed with their LinkedIn titles and the Forbes list that they don’t see the countless hours of work that gave her that title or how he made the 30under30. They forget to mention the work put in on the weekends, the constant brainstorming calls or the meticulous planning with a business partner, as I have with Eva. The nightly cold sweats, the podcasts, the nagging thought of “what if I fail?”- that’s almost never talked about on my startup news feeds. Wondering why that is? Me too.

For me, I compare starting a business to is raising a kid. The late nights paired with some TLC is crucial for their growth and development. It shapes them at an early age. You hope that you taught them to mind their manners and make educated decisions, but really you just try your best and throw a hail mary. It’s worth it, it totally is worth it. Owning a company is no different. It’s picking up your takeout at your favorite Chinese joint only to be pulled into an impromptu meeting with a deli owner next door. All the while, you’re wearing camo joggers and mismatched socks. This is obviously a true story. I still owe Eva a pack of matching socks.

Before taking the proverbial leap of faith and becoming a business owner, you first have to fully understand that you are entering into what we like to call “special-ops mode.” I am  told “no” on a regular basis. Luckily, “no” isn’t a word in my vocabulary.

Part of owning a company is taking a “no” and turning it into “why not”.

As a business owner, I can’t afford the word “no” because my business is my life line. We work for ourselves but that also means we rely on ourselves to eat.

I think my generation forgets sometimes that you are responsible for your own success and what that looks like. The “startup life” is glamorized constantly. That’s fake news. You want to know why 75% of startups fail? Because an investor can’t buy you blood, sweat, and tears.