I set out to do my startup at the end of January. I had worked in startups the last 6+ years so you think I would know what it takes. But transitioning from a work-for-someone-else job to a 2-person startup has been a difficult one.
I used to spend most of my days in meetings. Now I sit in a room and code the whole day.
I would shower every morning before work. This week I showered before going to visit one of my consulting clients and my husband was like “whoa, why are you taking a shower in the morning?”
I used to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now I eat breakfast and sometimes dinner, but mostly things like toast.
When I was doing my job I would leave the details to my team and only step in if needed. Now every detail is my responsibility.
Part of my job was to stay on top of technology and news, now the only website I seem to visit regularly is stackoverflow and API documentation.
I would always be pushing to launch quickly, now I am almost scared to launch my product because of this irrational fear of failure.
I would occasionally think about marketing and strategy. Now I know I should be thinking about marketing and strategy but am too focused on building.
Saying no is hard to do
And while these changes are interesting, the most difficult change is learning to say no.
No, I can’t have coffee with you.
No, I can’t help you with your startup.
No, I can’t come to your party.
No, I can’t speak at your event.
No, I can’t respond to your email this week.
And so it goes.
But I am struggling with say no. I feel bad when I do. I feel like I am letting people down. I am only spending time on things that make money (namely consulting to bootstrap my company), or is directly involved in my startup. Otherwise I am turning things down.
That is all fine and good, but I feel like I am missing out!
I want to go these things. I want to go speak at conferences. I want to help other people cultivate their ideas. I want to mentor other people the way people have mentored me. And I miss my friends.
I have really put a lot of energy into trying to understand this part of myself. I know I am a people pleaser. I know I want to make others happy. And there is part of me avoiding my startup work, because I have this fear around launching my product.
I worry people won’t use it. I worry people won’t pay for it. I worry enough people won’t pay for it before I run out of runway. I am so scared of failing.
My experience has been around scaling existing products. My strength has been in building the team and making an organization fast and efficient. I feel out of my comfort zone building a first version of something.
More of my fears
Last week I presented at a conference and while I was there I would tell people about my product idea. The good thing was that I really got my elevator pitch down. However, by the end of the conference I was actually avoiding meeting new people. Why? Because I didn’t want to hear any more things like:
“Do you think people will pay for that?”
“Have you heard of company xyz? I think they tried that and failed.”
“Why would you build that when your background is in large-scale systems? You are wasting your talents.”
“Why would you build something like that? You should join our startup instead.”
I started off the conference confident and excited to tell people about my project and ended the conference with more self-doubt. That being said, I believe in my idea and just can’t wait to launch a product I am proud of. But….
Everything is taking longer that I would like.
My software was functionally complete over 2 weeks ago, but then we were doing some customer tests and I realized that it was a bit confusing on the on boarding. So now I am rewriting that and changing a lot of the nomenclature (I am longing for XCode refactoring support in Ruby actually).
I am a big fan of the MVP launch early model, however, I also realize that I many only get one shot with a lot of customers, so I have developed this performance anxiety around letting people use my software.
I am protective of it, and my focus is on making the new user experience fantastic. I feel more like Steve Jobs than what I preach to others about getting your product out in front of customers early and getting validation. I fully admit to being a hypocrite.
It is definitely a learning experience though, and I am very excited that my private beta should start in the next week or so.
Woo! Thanks to everyone for their support, and for their forgiveness on my belated email replies 🙂
Have a fantastic week!
And if you want to keep up to date on my launch and general happenings, you can always subscribe to my launch list. I am sending updates and status every week or so.