Food for thought: Success is in the eyes of the beholder
I’m 31 years old. Since I was a kid my mother tells me that I always had a curiosity and passion to build, invent, love, make music, and make friends. She reminded me of the time I tried to build a small boat from scratch. How I designed it on paper (I still remember it looked more like an airboat — which was probably appropriate being that I was from Florida), built the frame with plywood, and then sealed it with fiberglass coating. Too bad it sunk quickly once we placed it in the canal near my childhood home! About 2 years ago, I had the pleasure of spending a substantial amount of time with my mother — yep at 30 years old I was bunking up with my mom and during those several months she shared so many stories that started to bring the puzzle pieces together.
I always joke around about how I have been torturing myself for nearly 10 years by being in the startup game as an entrepreneur. When I first started my career, I guess thats what you call it — “a career”, I swore I’d be rich and famous by 22, then it was 23, then it was; well, you get the point. Today, I’m 31 years old and happier than ever as an entrepreneur. Have I made $20 million dollars, nope. Do I have the mansion on the beach in Miami (my hometown), negative. Have I had a tremendously successful exit, no. So why am I happier than ever you may ask yourself?
My friend Steli Efti Founder and CEO of Elastic Sales, talks a lot about being a happy entrepreneur. I couldn’t agree more. Look its tough; very tough. Yet that cant allow you to become a bitter cynical person when things dont work out the way to planned they would. Entrepreneurship is a journey as is life. And although I am incapable of explaining to you why horrible things happen in life on a daily basis, I can assure you that focusing on these awful things doesn’t help anyone. And in business, you should learn from your mistakes and difficult moments and make the decision to chalk them up as a opportunities for growth. Focus on the good that has occurred even if its hard sometimes to see it. You must fight for this clarity. After my previous startup failed, I was so depressed and discouraged that I could not see the good that it had brought. Today I am so thankful for having gone through that experience. Each venture grows your network, teaches you valuable lessons, and makes you that much more ready to run a successful company and be a good leader.
So for now, take a deep breath and enjoy the journey. This is a bumpy yet road amazing road we are on NOW and what lies ahead will come in due time…
I have spent alot of time this year thinking about entrepreneurship, particularly as it relates to the start up technology world from a non-technical founder’s perspective, and I have come to a few conclusions:
- Keep Teams Local (as much as possible): Its tough enough building a company when your team is in your back yard. Working with remote teams makes it much harder. I’m convinced that having a great team is like having a great relationship — it takes work. And when you are not able to interact regularly with your teammates, because they are in another time zone is makes it much harder. Many times there are cultural and language barriers. As we all know, often times tones and meanings can be unclear in the virtual world. Now, I’m not saying that its impossible; and in fact there are a ton of examples of teams that have been able to pull it off. My point is, if you are going to have an offshore or remote team, get ready for the challenges that you will face.
- Be Clear, Definitive, and Make the Though Calls: You need to set the tone and expectation for the team from day one. Sometimes a non-technical founder will be so afraid of loosing their technical team that they will turn a blind eye to red flags or try to rationalize why things are not getting done. If they cant hack it, let them go. Its not healthy for anyone involved.
- Build SOMETHING you know something about: Too many times do you see entrepreneurs building businesses that they are clueless about. I am definitely guilty of this. I have tried to start businesses that I didnt know much about and perhaps was just cool. Then reality hit.