Have the courage to be misunderstood and ruthless
my learnings from two failed attempts at starting up
I have tried starting up twice in my life before and I failed twice. This is my third try
I have never been scared of it honestly, financial independence enables security to pursue goals you wish to.
Nonetheless, I haven’t been successful with any of my ventures yet, and here’s a few things I carry from from my last two experiences:-
First, be misunderstood
“Trade being short-term low-status for being long-term high-status” — Sam Altman
I’ve been misunderstood on most occasions about my ideas and my life choices.
I would trade being wrong in the long term about something that is going to be highly impactful over being safe and right in the short term that has little or no impact on myself or the world.
When the time came to quit my job and start up, there was very little support for what I was pursuing and for what I was leaving behind. I continue pursuing it because I find it fun and I always keep a long term Plan B ready to fall back on.
It’s exciting that I get to work on things I want to, solving real problems in the world the way I want to. It comes with a very high upside but nonetheless I like to hedge the downside.
Some people outrightly reject my ideas because it’s really novel to them, here’s two reasons why such people can and should be ignored (but never overlooked):-
- Things at inception look a lot different from what they would look like at scale. Think of Flipkart back when it only sold books online. Now it’s a mammoth organization. Here’s a screenshot of it at inception:-
- Only a handful of people LOVE change (called early adopters) — I plan to work with this handful of people, using their feedback constructively to build something that late adopters would die to be a part of.
Second, be ruthless and relentless
I get rejected a lot, ideas get rejected a lot. There’s two things I keep in mind:
- Try to get things done anyway: I pursue it so badly that people give what I want out of pity if not otherwise.
- If I still don’t get through, I don’t lose any sleep over it, there’s many options out there.
People often try to push me down, call the idea shit or tell me to do things their way to succeed. It’s easy to just adjust to their way of doing things.
But caring too much about what people think, is usually more of a deterrent. Obviously to create a good business, I need to create what people want and sell that.
Be relentless with work and sales
I’ve realized, what works best is to relentlessly follow up with people to understand what they want. But being ruthless when it comes to putting the product or the service in the market.
In the long run, what matters is to create a product that people absolutely need. Not what they think about why and how it’s done.
I have always lagged on intensity, it can take some time to build the flow to work with intensity, figuring out the tasks for yourself. There’s no manager, getting work done from me.
Third, be really really fast at execution.
Get decisions wrong if that’s what it takes to be fast. Going fast is far more important in the early days than it is to make the right decisions.
As a founder, there are so many things to execute, things to experiment with, learn many new things, wear multiple hats at the same time and execute without ever having the experience of doing them. Executing consistently, I guess, is the recipe to building a resilient project/business. Whether it becomes a financially successful / sustainable company or not, depends on many other factors.
All in all, I take three things very seriously from my past experiences. Executing fast, working for a really high upside in the long run at the cost getting things wrong in the short run and figuring out how to increase intensity.