Summary: Feeling frustrated by your lack of startup success? Don’t worry, this is normal. When I’m feeling discouraged I listen to some sage advice from Ira Glass, host of This American Life. In this interview Ira talks candidly about the phases you’ll experience on your way to success.
Feeling Frustrated at Your Lack of Success?
I’ve got a confession to make.
After years trying to be a successful entrepreneur I’m terribly dissatisfied with the companies and product I’ve built. Somewhere there is an entrepreneur reading this, equally frustrated by her current lack of success who has anxiety about 2013.
I hope I can inspire you and make you feel a bit better about your life.
When I’m feeling frustrated I seek reassurance from this video by Ira Glass, host of This American Life, the most popular podcast in America. Ira’s advice applies to equally well to entrepreneurship. 1
Beginners Gap Between Taste and Execution
Your taste is so good you can tell when what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you.
Lots of people talk about how long and hard entrepreneurship is, but few people acknowledge the self-doubt and frustration involved. We all get into entrepreneurship because we appreciate great products, or as Ira puts it, “we have great taste” in products and know the good and the bad.
Because we have “great taste”, we know that our first products are lousy. We know we’re not solving real problems, that our solutions are not resonating with customers, that our UI is confusing, that our code is buggy.
Ironically enough I’m more aware of my product shortcomings than customers because my taste is better.
Successful People go Through Years of Frustration
A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people, they quit.
Anyone successful goes through YEARS where their taste tells them what they are making is crap.
I personally know several entrepreneurs who spent 15 years or more struggling with mediocre results before they hit traction. When I get frustrated, I keep reminding myself that this is all normal.
Do a Lot of Work
The most important possible thing you can do is to do a lot of work.
It sounds so cliché, but the most important thing we can do as entrepreneurs is to keep going. Keep testing product ideas. Keep building. Keep talking to potential customers. Keep learning from our mistakes.
Keep putting yourself in an opportunity to get lucky, to discover a scalable new business.
Stop thinking about the past, the opportunity cost of what you could have been doing with your life. The last product, the last company doesn’t matter.
I overcome self-doubt by focusing on my work.
Be a Warrior
You will be fierce. You will be a warrior. And you’ll make things your know in your heart are not as good as you want them to be. Fight your way through that.
I can’t say it any better than Ira.
Photo credit: kuer90.1
- As a side note, if you’re studying English, This American Life is a great podcast. The hosts speak slow, conversational English in a standard American accent. You will also get insights into what life is really like in America. ↩