Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Farther You Go, The Tougher It Gets

Something many entrepreneurs don't realize is that the farther you go with your startup, the tougher it gets.

When you start with an idea, it's easy to be excited. Since it only exists in your head, it morphs every day, possibly even with every conversation. And because it hasn't reached the market yet, your mind fills with best-case scenarios.

Once you start working on your product, things get harder. Stubborn bugs pop up. Usability tests don't go so well. But the good news is, you're still in control. You squash the bugs and redesign the interface. And all along, you're eagerly anticipating the launch.

Then you launch your product. If you're lucky, it strikes a nerve, and people start adopting your product like crazy. You pop the cork on your champagne bottle and celebrate...until the servers go down. And the bug reports start rolling in. And the angry Tweets start. But hey, these are high quality problems, right?

If your luck holds up, you eventually become established. You have thousands of customers or millions of users. People come to depend on you. And that's when things really get tough. You have to worry about supporting an endless array of web browsers and smartphone OS variations. You can't stop supporting any of your existing features because Important Customer X or Prominent Blogger Y insists on their importance. And anyone who has paid you money or uploaded a bunch of content believes they have the right to bawl you out at any time. Even Mark Zuckerberg (in between sessions of swimming in a pool of 24-carat gold coins a la Uncle Scrooge McDuck) has to deal with the Internet lynch mob that forms every time he makes the smallest of changes to the Facebook UI.

Tough? Maybe. But it's a sign of progress, and ultimately success. I compare it to dieting.

It feels good to dream big about the new product you're planning, just like it feels good to eat a big sundae with whipped cream. But even though dealing with the growing pains of success can seem like eating broccoli, rest assured, that is the feeling of you getting fitter.

Too many entrepreneurs think of raising money or launching the product as the end. Those aren't the end, or even the beginning of the end. But to paraphrase Churchill, they just might be the end of the beginning. And it's what you do afterwards that distinguishes successful entrepreneurs from wannabes.

2 comments:

Steven Jasmin said...

Chris,

Another high quality post and it doesn't just apply to Startups, its life in general!

Keep it up!

Brendon McQueen said...

Good and true... sigh :)