“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many hills to climb” – Nelson Mandela
As a founder of Startups Club, a community driven company, I have been at the centre of 1000s of communications exchanged on hourly basis across cities. These communications are between members and the Club which has been ongoing for the past 4+ years. Recently I was made to realise by my team, that it was time for me to take a break.
Did I jump for the opportunity? Not at all. Like all founders, I had the same doubts; will this be fine for the company? The community? Will the team be able to handle this? Can I take this time out? Should I take this time out???
10 days back, the decision was taken. I was to go off-grid from Startups Club, taking-off to an undisclosed holiday. I was clear and sure that I was not going to be working for Startups Club. That I must have this time-out to come back more powered-up for the company I represent. This write-up is very special for all of us – the early stage startup founders. When we burn the midnight oil to make great things happen for our startups, one of the things which keeps us going us is the fact that once the things take shape, we would take that well deserved break. Here is some reality check for all of us.
I was at the gate to take my flight out and suddenly, I felt a chill run up my spine… “Am I really not going to be playing any part in my own company for the next 10 days?” I asked myself. I could feel my heart get heavy but I stopped and assured myself that I would not be taking any decisions emotionally. This was for the good of Startups Club and boarded the plane. But the next 10 days had something amazing hidden for this founder.
Lesson #1: We founders are bad conversation makers. We cannot talk about anything other than the problem we are solving, the industry we are working in and the business we are building. We do not think before we start talking about our startup. The fact that you have been working so extensively is so obvious when you can’t talk anything else. If as a startup founder, you can start off a conversation other than your work, you have to think again about how driven you are for your startup. I did try to change the topics. It was like I was obsessed and could only talk about Startups, Mentoring, Investments, Eco-systems, India…
Outcome: Met with amazing entrepreneurs even before I reached the destination and a plan was set to spend the coming days at some of the best startup events locally.
Lesson #2: If you are a startup founder, you have to have hustled at some point of time to figure your finances. This is what I realised, the journey of a founder starts with choosing to hustle, then it goes to become important to hustle and then even without you being aware of it, it becomes your habit. I traveled alone, I chose to go as per a budget and I planned to stand by it. As you read earlier, the sudden surge of networking events brought along with it, some unexpected expenses. I was left stretching my budget. Usually, the old me would have reached out to my family back home and request a fund transfer. But, the founder in me had changed me, which I realised then. In an unknown place with strangers, I was a founder by DNA, I was a hustler and I knew no other way. I hustled my way. Using my business as my strength, I mitigated the cost of attending many of these events by offering up potential collaborations and market access to India.
Outcome: Startups Club now has potential international collaborations and set to explore new territories.
Lesson #3: As startups goes on to build a team, it is always suggested – The team must be given something to run towards, rather than chasing them towards achieving results. That is one of the key approach we at Startups Club takes with our team. To show them the dream they have to chase, we as founders put in the maximum number of hours and lead this driven team forward. The whole community of Startups Club is well aware that its founders, especially, myself as a community builder puts in a good 20 hours / day for her startup.
These 10 days of travel was to be holidays, was to be long comfortable sleep, lazy mornings, late night parties and everything along with it. In the first couple of days, I realised that I was not meant for that. I am sure it has happened to so many of you – You are in a holiday and you are lying on your bed, staring at the ceiling blankly and all you want to do is jump out of that comfortable bed and work on your system. I was the same founder there, have no shame to say that I continued to put those sleepless nights.
Do not mistake me here, as your startup grows, you will have to learn to let the system run by itself. You cannot be doing everything at all times but as a founder, you can also not stop working at any point of time. You have to just choose the right thing for your startup at that point of time. But if you are a driven founder and you give yourself no other option but to make your startup the most successful in the eco-system, you should never stop. You have to keep pushing and you have to make sure that your team has a dream at all times to run towards.
Outcome: Often times as we are focussed on moving forward, we forget to look at the finer aspects such as policies. This time gave me the freedom and the ability to think and work on the same.
So, taking you back to the start, from that quote from Nelson Mandela; here is what I realised as a founder in the last 10 days. This holiday has got me to climb a great hill, I stood up there, proud of my achievement. As I started looking around with a belief that I have done it, is when I realised that there were so many more great hills to climb and I had just set out to understand that.
Reach me to know in detail about this journey…