The Brutal Truth From a Dying Startup
A new anonymous Tumblr from a founder whose company is about to go under shines a light on the darker side of starting up. Should entrepreneurs be more open about their struggles as well as their successes?
By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)
“In 30 days, my startup will be be dead.”
So starts a new anonymous Tumblr launched by the founder of a soon-to-crash-land startup last week that has been generating buzz in the startup community.
“I’m overwhelmed, stretched so thin and unable to do a really good job at any of my duties. I don’t sleep nearly enough and honestly think the only thing that keeps my health and my marriage intact is my running,” he confesses in the first post, just one of several fascinating peaks into the realities of life at a failing startup that have since been posted.
The bleak tone and scary realities chronicled on the blog parallel another post we had here on Women 2.0 last week in which Emi Tokita-Furukawa talked about experiencing panic attacks and how she found starting up more paralyzing than exciting at times.
“I wanted to share my story as a testament to the very real fears and doubts that make ‘taking the plunge’ so scary. I’ve visited a fair number of local entrepreneurial events and heard a lot of successful individuals speak about their career change with an ease that I cannot relate to,” she writes before calling for more transparency about downsides and struggles of the startup experience.
She’s not alone in making the point. On his popular blog VC Brad Feld made a similar case for more openness in response to the ‘30 Days to Live’ blog.
Entrepreneurs need to talk about failure… I see entrepreneurs, especially first time entrepreneurs, in denial all the time about the possibility of failure. ‘Failure is not an option’, or ‘I’m afraid to fail’, or ‘Everything is going great’ (when it isn’t). Sometimes failure is your best option.
Denial of reality – and what you can do – is a big issue. Ignoring reality until it’s too late is another. Not reaching out for help when there is still time is yet another. Fear of failure – which is the mind killer – is yet another.
All these posts highlight the false cheer that founders sometimes feel they must project to those around them, as well as the serious damage that denial of reality can do — to the mental health of the founder herself, to the state of her startup, and to the mindset of entrepreneurs coming up behind her with a less than complete picture of the realities of doing a startup.
Do you agree that founders need to talk more about failure? Are you willing to share your own low moments?
Jessica Stillman is an editor at Women 2.0 and a freelance writer with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She writes a daily column for Inc.com and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM and Brazen Careerist, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @entrylevelrebel.