It’s why we love it, right? The superpower of startup teams and founders that is taking something from absolutely nothing and turning it into something through a crazy amount of energy, passion, and drive.
But, how do we keep the pace going up to the top? I’ll go into this more at the end of this post, but I want to pre-state this prior to getting into it, burnout is very real, and you should take time away from ‘working’ here and there with zero questions asked to yourself about it. You aren’t lazy or unproductive for caring about yourself and your health and taking 20 minute time blocks away from your startup throughout the day, it’s called going at a sustainable pace so you can be the best version of you, and so you can work as efficiently as possible. With that said, let’s get into the grind of startups.
You have to hustle
So many people outside of the space love to say that no matter what you’re doing, you shouldn’t waste your time ‘working’ and should spend your entire life having fun, and never spend all your time ‘working’ because there’s no point. I’m sure, especially if you’re like myself and others, you hear this a lot from people online and from people around you who maybe don’t understand what you’re doing fully or just put simply: don’t get it, which is absolutely fine, why should they if they don’t really care for it, and that’s part of us as startup founders and teams that we have to deal with and try our best to ignore: the judgement, misunderstanding, or lack of understanding from others.
Whilst the first half of that usual same repeated saying is half true, as you definitely should take breathers for personal time and time away when you need it and for when precious moments appear, the half not being true is that we shouldn’t be ‘working’ and should be ‘having fun’. That’s what our ‘work’ is to us is, and so it is our fun. Alongside this, the second half just simply doesn’t relate to startups and also, it’s just not true. As a form of a saying I always like to go by says; if you aren’t around what I’m doing, or have done what I want to do, I probably won’t take advice from you, and that’s kind of where my opinion lies when I hear that same old saying repeated time and time again.
After all, the reason we made our startups in the first place was because of an insane passion and love for what we’re creating and doing with them, alongside us being crazy enough to take on huge companies and put every single second we have into our passion to make something out if it for the people we build our startups for, and for our friends, family, and ourselves, right? So with that, we want to put all of our time and energy into our ‘work’, which we don’t even consider work obviously, to us it’s our everything, and also, we have to keep grinding if we want it to build momentum and keep growing to make our startups into something. We want what we’re working on to live on way beyond us.
Hit the gas
As a startup founder myself (those startups primarily being Waivly, Valkence, and Skylr Infinite), I can 100% say, and I know any other startups in the space will agree, running a startup to the top is the most energy-sucking thing ever. If you take a day off, the momentum slows down, in whichever way you’d like to spin it; whether that be growth, creation, or anything. And so it goes back to my point of us having to keep running at 100% to keep our passions going the direction we want them to.
It’s kind of a touchy area, as obviously it’s so important to have a healthy balance with grinding on your startup and taking care of yourself, but at the same time it’s also just something that a startup requires; constant gas - if you want to make it into something, build a community, or whatever you’re end goal is. And so as startups, we really do just have to keep our foot on the gas and hit them at full speed as much as we can to build momentum and keep that going.
Also at the end of the day, who knows us best? Ourselves, right? So I feel like we all kind of know when we need to take a step back for ourselves or for any other reason, so when that time comes, absolutely 100% zero questioning it, take the time, but as for the rest of our time, to keep our startups going to the top, it’s literally just a constant grind. I also find, just as a helpful tip to startups out there, scheduling what you can of your day in terms of your to-do list (obviously, impossible as startups, but what we can) in the morning helps, so you can build in time blocks to step away from working, take some time to reflect, have a breather, get a coffee down you, and get back to it, and so you don’t burnout constantly, as that’s a huge factor of running startups to consider, even with all these points.
I saw a tweet from Domm, the CEO of Fast (amazing company, make sure to check them out), last year and honestly ever since I saw the tweet it’s absolutely stuck with me, and it’s a simple one that says, “In startups, if you take your foot off the pedal, the default mode is reverse, not neutral.”, and it’s so, so true, but you can also spin it as we are in neutral, just going up a steep slope, so we naturally go downhill. Both ways have the same message.
There were some disagreements to this tweet, as there likely will be this post, but I stand by it 100%. Definitely, as some of the disagreements said, you should take time to reflect on your journey and make sure you’re doing everything right and on the right path, and not just going at full force on the wrong direction mistakingly, I fully back that, we should naturally as founders check ourselves regularly and our direction, but the principle of the tweet is what I’m pushing on here, because it’s just fact.
As startups, we gain our momentum and pace by continuously creating, sharing, and building, and because startups rely mostly off the team, alongside obviously our communities, supporters, customers, and so on as we grow, but at our core starting out - our team, anytime the team stops, the startup goes backwards and loses its momentum because it has nothing to push it or keep it running. So it’s so important to keep hustling, and keep at a speed that you can - which is maintainable (this is so important, a speed you can actually maintain), so you can continuously drive your startup forward and to the top.
This post doesn’t even all apply to just startups, it kind of applies to anything you’re working on in life which requires a lot of energy to achieve what you’re goals are with it, I’m just aiming towards startup teams and founders, as I am one myself, but it’s a general take on the concept of ‘grinding your way to the top’ that can be applied with a lot of things.
Burnout is so important to take into consideration here, and as much as I’m pushing on ‘you need to hustle to the top’, ‘grind your way up there’, and so on, and whilst this might sound slightly counterintuitive, please, please, pleaseee, take care of yourself, and build as I said time blocks away from working, to take breathers and moments to just think. Burnout is very real and if you’ve ever experienced it, which I have many times, you’ll know how hard it completely wipes you out, and so it’s really important to know your limits, and go at a sustainable pace. You can’t win the race if you don’t go at a pace that you can maintain, remember that.
Startups weren’t meant to be easy, if they were, everyone would do them. They take extreme dedication, passion, energy, and drive to essentially turn nothing into something, which is what startup teams are made up of and why we wouldn’t want it any other way, as it’s what we enjoy and what we want to do with our lives, so keep hustling startups, take care of yourself and keep at it, we all got this.
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