What happens if you are not able to scale your startup?
Early Stage Life, Entrepreneurship Nov 07, 2018
That’s a great question. Another way to put it is, when do you give up?
There’s no great answer here. As founders, we hear that tenacity is one of the biggest attributes that a founder can have. It’s hard though when you’re working long hours, making no money, or maybe going into debt. Maybe your company’s taking out credit cards. Maybe you’re not paying your employees and staff. That is incredibly stressful as a founder to go through.
And if you’re doing that and you’re seeing growth, and you’re just in between funding rounds, you can hold on. But if you’re doing that and you’re not really seeing growth or it’s stagnant growth, you might be heading into some real trouble. So there is no right answer. But I think when you lose passion for what you’re doing, and you lack clarity on what you’re trying to accomplish, and you do that for months with really no bright spots – the market’s not giving you any feedback that’s positive, and your bank account is at zero – that might be time to consider getting a job or moving on.
But you also have to keep in mind that there’s a natural curve to how startups function, and this has been written about a whole bunch elsewhere. But when you’re just starting out, you have a lot of optimism about your idea. You put your idea out there. You might get some decent feedback and you think you’re going to conquer the world and your growth is going up into the right. But then what happens is you start to learn things. You start to get feedback and most of the time it’s not great, and you start to question what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Your friends and family may think you are crazy by now.
Couple that with the fact that as a founder you probably started out by being super positive and optimistic, thinking you can take on the world, but now you’re hitting a whole bunch of roadblocks along the way. And you realize that instead of it taking one year to scale it’ll actually take 3, 5 or 10 years instead. The reality is that to really get this company off the ground, it’s usually a 5 to 10-year thing, not a three-month or 2-year thing. So there’s a phase of disillusionment often that creeps in. I’ve been through it a few times myself. And it’s really tough, but if you can claw your way back up and start to move your metrics in the right place, then you may be one of those companies who ends up succeeding.