Summary: Yes, yes, startups are hard. Brutally hard. But one of the reasons we chose this career is because we want meaningful, enjoyable work. While the emerging entrepreneurship management science of being a Lean Startup is our best remedy against failure, process isn’t worth it if it ruins the fun. So take breaks from the process and don’t let it.
“Customer Development most reminds me of my experience working in a call center”
Two Customer Development Advocates have a Confession
Sometimes we forget the process and just build something
Customer Development can be a brutal, frustrating grind. Don’t get me wrong – I would never go back to my days of just building stuff and hoping. But lots of folks are singing the praises of a process they’ve never tried – it can wear me down.
Justin Wilcox and I were chatting this past week at Singapore’s startup accelerator JFDI about this topic and mutually confessed - sometimes we just say “The heck with it – I’m going to build something”. When we find ourselves in what Justin calls Lean Startup Paralysis we do just that.
(you can listen to our discussion below)
I don’t let Lean Startup process ruin the fun of being an entrepreneur.
Why I Became an Entrepreneur
To work with creative people on stuff that matters to me
When people ask me why I work on startups my first answer is… “the people”. No other profession in the world gives us the opportunity to work with such passionate, talented – albeit sometimes a bit nuts – people.
But the second reason is to work on stuff that matters because I want to enjoy my work. By “Enjoy” I don’t just mean getting meaning from what I create – I also want to enjoy the journey of entrepreneurship.
I’ve had plenty of jobs that were an unfulfilling grind for months and years. I don’t want to re-create that in my own company for me or anyone else.
Only One Certain Path to Failure – Quitting
If I give up on my startup because I’m miserable it is guaranteed to fail
Following a rigorous process of Customer Development minimizes the risks – provided that we don’t get so frustrated that we quit working on it.
When I’m frustrated I remind myself – adhering to the optimal startup process isn’t the goal – success is the goal. If I don’t wake up every day fired up to build something great I’ll never get there.
When I get Frustrated I Do Something Fun
F’ it. I can’t do another call this week.
When I find myself confused, frustrated and generally unhappy with Customer Development I take a break – and do something fun, usually creating something or spending time with people.
Two weeks ago I downloaded Omnigraffle and spent a day learning how to use it. It was a blast and now I’ve got a new tool. Other times I build something. Or write a blog post. Or email a friend and ask him about his startup. Invest in my local startup community by working on NEXT Beijing or going to a Meetup.
These breaks really give me a boost; for some reason the answers and next steps seem a bit clearer after.
Stuck? Frustrated? Just Need to Vent?
I’m here if you need me
Just grab a 30-minute slot and I’ll be glad to help you out via Skype.
Why I Chose this Photo
I chose this photo by pepe50 because it symbolized my feelings while writing this post. I can imagine these men working 15-hour days doing repetitive, tough work – and then taking a lunch break and enjoy the best view in the city.
Isn’t this what our lives as entrepreneurs should be about? Working like hell and then taking a break with friends to enjoy the view.