I used to normalise chaos at startups. "There is always a fire" was my favourite phrase. WHAT AN IDIOT I was. Building a business should be calm, and joyful.
Not every startup needs to put a dent in the universe. Or capture the market and remove competition. There is nothing wrong with building a McDonald's empire. But. But have you even considered an alternative path? Maybe a neighbourhood kitchen that serves tasty, simple and home cooked burgers. That's it. That's their moat. That's their USP. And their business model. The owners love their craft, and the customers love them for it.
You don't need to grind hard. Or hustle (whatever that means) all day. If you keep a 20 year horizon, a simple 20% yearly growth is a very successful business. You can find your own neighbourhood on the internet. And build a healthy profitable business that still grows fast.
Nothing is more important than a healthy body. Not even your unicorn startup. Don't get bewitched by silicon valley startup bullshit. Intense life & death struggles are for soldiers at war. All you have is a stupid app.
Why am I the best person to tell you this? I was once a young, starry-eyed startup CEO myself. I raised $5 Million from top VCs, grew my startup to 250 employees, and then burnt it to the ground. Sour grapes? Maybe. I will leave that judgement to you.
But I know one thing for sure. You don't need to be a mission driven startup. Your life's mission is to be happy & fulfilled. Maybe building a rocketship is what fulfils you. But it's not for everyone. Introspect deeply before you take that path.
How can you reduce chaos in your startup?
- Stop chasing growth at all costs.
- If you have already raised funds, talk to your investors. Tell them that you will hit the goals, but in 3 years, not 1.5 years. Make that runway last longer.
- Stop comparing yourself to competition in the market. That's a slippery slope to hell
- Don't throw people at problems. Automate everything. Build systems!
Sounds simple right? It is. The hard part is making the right decision.