“You can’t be half pregnant.”
Founders need to take this as a fact and not just take it to heart.
I spend a lot time of with people before they actually found their startups, they’ve usually got a customer, product idea or opportunity they want to execute on. The problem they have is letting go of their current jobs. They make good money, why give up that when they can work on the startup in the evening and on weekends – thats bootstrapping isn’t it?
I’m sure they think they can execute like this. But, take it from me, its impossible to to do two jobs at once and do them well. I should know, I didn’t do two jobs well when I was both an Analyst at Wesley Clover AND the founder/CEO of JohnnyVoIP. I dropped more balls then I should have and it ultimately led to the failure of the startup. Was that the only factor? absolutely not. Was it a contributor? A huge one.
And why did the startup fail, and not my other job? Because ultimately a startup requires a lot more care and attention then anything you’ll ever be involved in. You need to be totally committed or you’re not. If you’re not all in, your staff, your investors, your customers, your mechanic, your mothers second cousin – all know you’re not. People will see it.
You’ll be the guy working on something – but when people can still ask who do you don’t say your startup’s name you’re cheating on your startup. If you’re networking at an event and you’re still trying to get business for your devshop, you’re cheating on your startup. If you carry around two business cards, you’re cheating on your startup.
I’m seeing this crop up a lot more with the ‘consulting’ and ‘pro services’ crowd, or students deciding between a startup or school – Mark MacLeod alluded to it on his blog recently. But let me add my voice to the chorus. When I started investing in startups I worked with some great angels. And one of them taught me two very important lesson’s – both of which I’ve heard repeated by others during my career.
“Ask yourself, is this a Bridge or a Pier?” – for how to look at bridge loans/financings.
“Are you all in here, because you can’t be half pregnant.” – showing the binary reality of whether you are truly commited, or not.
In an environment with megabacked Canadian Accelerators that will cover some of your costs to get to your MVP, you should really go all in on your startup idea. Because you’re competing with all those people who are all in, and no matter how smart you are, tenacity beats brains every time.