Monday, December 15, 2014

most and least supportive people

As a startup founder, your own morale is an important resource.  So it's smart to be careful who you spend your time with.

I've discovered that the most supportive people are founders of successful companies.  They know that it takes courage and getting 1000 details correct in order to build a good product from scratch, so they respect what you are doing.  They have the visionary foresight to look at your lumpy product and see flashes of diamond inside.

The least supportive people I've encountered are a subset of founders of startups that are still finding their way.  They will say things like "you should try doing X, and if that doesn't take off within a few days, then maybe just shut down the company".  What on earth -- why wouldn't you iterate instead of giving up the very first instant!  Perhaps they wish they had stayed at a comfortable job instead of starting their company, so they are projecting onto others.

The second-least supportive people are a subset of employees who joined a large company after it already became a behemoth.  They weren't around for the "ugly duckling" part of their company, so they never saw firsthand how all products start out from humble beginnings.  They look at your fledgling product, and it looks so puny compared to the honed product they work on, which has been polished over the years.  They can't imagine one turning into the other.

Founders of successful companies are the busiest people, but they are often the most helpful.