2 Negatives of Being a Start-Up

I started Elisha Consulting two months ago, and currently the endeavor is going well.  Every day I learn a little more, I have acquired a few clients, and I reach out to mentors on a frequent basis for help.  In this process there have been two revelations that have arisen which I was not expecting. 

1) Loneliness: as a start-up it is imperative to have energy and enthusiasm constantly.  Those cliché ideas of following your purpose and believing in yourself are true.  If you do not believe in yourself; nobody else will.  Yet, in this process, there is the very real feeling of loneliness especially if you are the sole owner.  In my past jobs I have joked with my colleagues, bounced ideas off of them, and was never worried about a paycheck arriving on time.  Now, all of the pressure of Elisha Consulting has fallen on me and it is . . .  lonely.  There are many times I wake up in the middle of the night and wonder what I am doing, I think about getting a “real” job, and searching for clients is an effort I do alone.  Loneliness is a start-up killer, but there is remedy. 

Create a support system.  My wife, family, friends, and business mentors are all supporting me and listen when I need help.  Most of the time I think they have more confidence in me than I have in myself.  I am successful because there are thirty people behind me pushing me forward.  The only way to survive being a start-up is to have a tremendous support system that will listen, provide advice, and guide when times are difficult.

2) Don’t Hire Friends: even though I have only been in business for two months, I can already forecast that my first hire will arrive soon.  My first reaction is to think through my close friends, who could be better than someone who is close to me?  After speaking with a few successful business owners on the topic of hiring they all had the same advice, do not hire friends!  Employees might end up becoming friends after working with them for an extended time, but that is very different than an employee starting as a friend.  This advice has been appreciated but is weighty, I have always relied on my friends and the idea of bringing in someone who is not close to me will be a difficult decision.

These are just two of the many surprises I have learned in my first two months of business and am shocked at how great of a learning experience this has been.  I have learned more in these two months about contracts, client relationships, providing objective business advice, and prioritizing my schedule than the past two years.  Yet, with all of this learning, if someone asked me for advice on starting a company I would tell them DON’T.  If I can talk you out of starting a business with a simple phrase then you should not start a business, but if you immediately take offense and go on to tell me why your business is a great idea . . . you might be on the right path.