Startups don’t die, they commit suicide. In other words, 90 percent of start-ups fail because the founders get bored, discouraged, or something else, and they move on to other things, not because of some catastrophe. No matter how dark it is today, things will always better tomorrow.
— Justin Kan, co-founderm Justin.TV & Twitch, Partner, Y Combinator
Creating a successful startup is not easy. Even though the modern American Dream of “becoming your own boss” is more accessible than ever that does not mean it’s a cakewalk.
The very history of the American Dream shows that its accessibility doesn’t preclude major challenges. In the 1880’s, the Homestead Acts brought thousands of Europeans to the United States with the hopes of acquiring land. Homesteaders settled onto land claims and tilled the soil. After five years of proving their mettle, the government promised to grant them ownership of that land. However, harsh weather, deadly illnesses, and the untamed wilderness proved relentlessness foes. (Can you tell I used to be a high school history teacher? I miss the history lessons, not the students. But I digress…). In the 1880’s, however, these immigrants knew that they had their work cut out for them and calculated that the reward was worth the effort.
Fast-forward 135 years and the passion for the American Dream hasn’t dimmed at all, just the means of achieving it have. Today, the dream is to have a lucrative profession that is intrinsically fulfilling and gives you resources to make the most of your personal life. Often, instead of tilling the soil we toil on our keyboards and traverse through cyberspace.
As Justin Kan points out, running your own business is going to involve some dark days. Indeed, life itself is going to bring you some pretty crappy ones. You’ve just gotta keep on keepin’ on. Running your own business is one of the hardest things in the world to do, but when you’re down, remember to give your dream a fighting chance. After all, this might be your only shot at making your idea work.
We knew we only had one shot at this, so there was nothing throughout our start-up that we didn’t purposely over-deliver on — from the way we pitched our distributors and investors to the way we rolled out in the market…If you always over-deliver, it is going to raw attention and you will likely be successful.
— Jeff Avallon Co-founder, IdeaPaint
Are you at the point where you feel like giving up? You’re not alone. We’ve all been there and have to fight through it. How do I fight through it? As silly as this may seem, I have an idea board that has my favorite quotes, song lyrics, pictures and anything else that helps me to remember what’s important to keep me grounded. Remember why you are working so hard and why you are putting yourself out there to achieve your dream. Work on creating a support system to pick you up when you fall. Friends, advisors, and mentors are all necessary to cheer you on and to help you refocus. If you don’t already have this dream team in place, consider joining groups on LinkedIn, contacting a lawyer through UpCounsel, or meeting with other business people in your area at mixers or community outreach events. Go to the places where professionals are and learn what makes their businesses stand out from the crowd.
As an entrepreneur, you should know that you are going to have to work your butt off to get your company off the ground. Entrepreneurs should also acknowledge that even being the captain of your destiny means that you need a capable crew to set sail. While you can’t do it alone, you fortunately don’t have to.