I quit my job to explore new opportunities and fortunately I stumbled upon an idea that got me really excited. After giving it a lot of thought, I chose to dedicate a large portion of my day to it, suddenly I was spending all my day on it. In hindsight, for the past 2 months I’ve been working my ass off to make it a reality.
The truth is, I thought once I have a product ready things would become easier and more comfortable. There would be a feeling of excitement and a sense of an achievement. I was so wrong. Things have been becoming more and more difficult. Once you have an MVP you’ve to think about the launch, make a product roadmap, add new features, launch again, worry about user retention and engagement and so much more. Every day there’s a new problem to figure out. It makes startups really difficult for a solo founder, considering you never know what will come out of it, if and when this struggle ends.
What makes it so difficult to be a solo founder?
Daily setbacks - Every now and then you hit setbacks which is usual in startups I guess. The code breaks, people you have paid to get work done delay the project, fail to complete it, and so much more.
Lack of emotional support - A person to share your ups and downs with. Someone who can relate to you.
Too much to do - At times, there’s just too much to do in a single day, on other occasions there’s too many skills required to get the job done. One person can only do so much right?
Particularly for non technical solo-founders - Lack of understanding of technology and the right skills to build a product.
Where’s the Opportunity?
Everything that you do in your startup brings an opportunity to you as an individual.
there’s Growth - If you’re fast, you’ll be growing really quickly as an individual.
it makes you enterprising - getting things done becomes the top to do list item as a founder.
you learn Sales - as a founder, there’s no way you will get anything dine without actually doing sales. In the process, you will learn the most important skill of all, selling. I had to sell the idea to my family, the people at my bank, then to the payment gateway operators, my friends. Almost everyone had doubts about it.
How’s is this an opportunity? Sales is helpful when you’re looking for a job or once you take a job and you want to grow within the firm or when you’re negotiating your salary.
you get to build your own culture. Even if it is just for yourself. Once you get a hang of the ‘getting things done’ culture it’s hard to go back to doing things slowly. Take this opportunity to operate lightning fast. There’s no one to stop you, but yourself.
I feel, there are two key ingredients to make this whole experience of starting up that make it worth the pain it comes with. and these two ingredients make it possible for you to achieve something substantial:
A real product
This is my third attempt, and I’ve product that I can flaunt about. My second attempt at starting up which I started about a year ago, brings me joy to this day, just the thought of a product existing out there makes me happy.
It gives me something to show off.
I brought in 2k users, which is not good enough to make it a sustainable business. But it is good enough to show to someone else and say “I can build a product and I can do sales as well”. This got a job along with a substantial hike. I am hoping it will work out the same way for me again If I ever go back to finding a job.
Fast, Frugal and Consistent growth
If you keep growing, consistently and frugally, you wouldn’t be pressured to do anything differently. Growth with a purpose trumps everything.
Once the growth simmers down because of lack of effort, or the culture of getting things done is broken, things start to feel overwhelming. You lose purpose.
All in all, I continue to strive, and even though emotionally it’s a little rough to be a solo founder the results make it incredibly rewarding.
The trick is to be fast, frugal, consistent and more than anything there needs to be a purpose to it all.
Wishing you luck on your journey!
Solo founders are lonely is a series on my journey as a solo non-technical founder. While I am enjoying it to the fullest, I am yet to know whether it’ll lead to a bright and sunny mountain top or a dark alley.