The other side of the coin: 5 not the most pleasant lessons learned from a personal startup experience

Original author: John Westenberg
  • Transfer

Today, it has become fashionable for young and capable founders of startups to proudly talk about their mistakes, losses and defeats on the path to success. I understand why these stories look attractive - thanks to them it is easier for us to justify our own failures. When someone who has managed to make a lot of money sheds light on the unsuccessful start of projects and a crappy decision, it is comforting.

Judging by the standards of many people, I have not yet achieved the necessary success to write this post. I am not a dreamer making dreams come true, or CEO. I am a woeful musician, a cofounder who has left his job and a dreamer who is not in the clouds. I went into battle with the crushing severity of defeats and depression, but gave up more often than I should. I have nothing to be proud of here. This is just part of my story.

1. Do not let enthusiasm blind you

I am very receptive to the energy and enthusiasm of others. Being a rather quiet and cautious person, I easily pick up someone else's fuse when I meet energetic and full of life people.

When I started my first business — a music management company that we ran from a recording studio in downtown Sydney — my co-founder was a full-blown man. He was going to turn our performers into superstars, and his enthusiasm seized me and completely blinded me, preventing me from seeing the problems inherent in our business. I was so blind that I did not see the dubious deals we were making and people who were losing money.

When the business went bad and I was left with a bunch of huge debts and a minus on my credit card, this borrowed energy evaporated and I could see the true face of my partner. He was just a swindler who used me for his selfish ends. After this experience, I got an unhealthy portion of bitterness and cynicism. But it also made me much wiser.

2. Never expose anyone

I used to take this calmly and myself sinned like that, which, of course. doesn't do me any honor.

In business, to achieve my goals, I was ready to put my own needs and desires above someone else, and many people suffered because of this. When I was involved in music management, there were groups whose promotion was my task, but they lost money and good opportunities, because I just pulled out everything that I needed from them, instead of wondering how I could help them. People were involved in my first technology startup, which I then unceremoniously threw out when it came to sharing capital.

I just called to fire those I thought were immaterial without worrying about them as people.
After the company was closed, and without becoming profitable, I reduced to zero shares in another business a few more people. And good and honest people have suffered because of me.

I was an egoist. After that, I feel like a piece of shit. Do not substitute others - even if you live well with it, then you will understand that it is not worth it.

3. Devote yourself to the cause.

At one time, I went from managing a music company and playing the role of a co-founder in a software development startup to a consulting business. I spent six months working part-time at a day care center while I was writing trial songs of dance music. My eternally patient partner annoyed me terribly. I did not reveal the full potential of all my projects, because halfway I was getting bored, and I threw them.

If you never invest all of yourself in what you do, then you are not committed to the cause. Sometimes this means that you do not care what you do, you just think about who it will make you. You cannot spend time reconsidering your views and understanding which path is right for you and which is not.

As the old proverb teaches (we use our analogue - approx. Translator), I took up tugs - do not say that not a dozen.

This is what I realized only after I became older and more experienced. But now I’m 26, and I feel that I definitely needed to understand this much earlier. When you find a project that you are working on with pleasure, the best you can do is focus on it, give yourself to the cause and bring it to the end. Something less will lead to one result - failure. And writing about this blog posts.

4. Do not sacrifice personal relationships to work

When I became a content marketing manager for a social media startup, it was about breaking up with my girlfriend. This is a shitty deal - exchange your beloved, dear person for a premium and rather meager salary. I was late for meetings with her because I could stay in the office. I'm not talking about a 15-minute delay with a phone call and an apologizing “I'm late,” I mean a two-hour late on Valentine's Day, even without a warning SMS.

Can you imagine she didn’t leave me! Until now, I can’t understand why she stayed with me. But I'm glad she did it.
When the passions subside, when what you build leads you to success or failure, the moment will come to turn back. You will begin to weigh what you have lost, comparing it with what you have learned or gained. And I believe that love will always outweigh the scales.

5. Spin as you can in difficult times

I went from managing a music business to star parties and managing a development team to working in the fast food industry for 18 months. This is a steep, absolute and shitty fall, I tell you. This is not an ideal situation when you fill out an online form asking you why you want to join the McDonalds team instead of building your own business, which, as you thought, would exist for decades.

But I didn’t have money and time, but I had to pay the bills. I still had big ideas (like everyone else), but without a source of profit, I simply could not bring them to life.

I plowed like Papa Carlo on several similar jobs, planning my next steps. That was not easy. But I stood it, I went through it. You just have to do everything in your power to make ends meet and stay afloat. And do not bother about this.

Now I pulled myself together. Before plunging into entrepreneurship again, I concentrated on gaining new skills and knowledge from other people. There are companies in which I would love to work, and now I earn the respect of other people who know more than me.

I try to think about these lessons every day. These five are my morning mantra. I drive them away in my head while in the pool, on the bike, in the shower and in the tram. I think about them again and again and force myself to learn from my mistakes again and again.

Because I need it. These lessons were not pleasant. But they are important.

Also popular now: