I was describing my startup experience to a woman I admire the other day, when out of the blue, she asked:
“Was it worth it?”
I hardly hesitated at all and said:
“The only thing I’d change if I could go back is that I’d integrate the incredible lessons I’ve learned during this time.”
And it’s true. I couldn’t have learned any of what I’ve learned in a book or a seminar. I feel like I’ve taken the ultimate MBA. But it took her asking the question for me to realize that. Before she asked the question, I was feeling lots of shame. Why? Because I was focusing on what I didn’t accomplish instead of seeing what I DID accomplish.
The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel. – Steven Furtick
The truth is that we (my Buyosphere team and I) did things that the vast majority of people never even attempt:
- We raised venture capital (even if it wasn’t enough)
- We built a social web application from scratch – multiple times – and for those who haven’t built a social web application, here is something to know: building a website is a challenge, building a social website (that people interact with) is another level of challenge and building a social web application (that people interact with and it changes with that social interaction) is a WHOLE ‘NOTHER level of challenge. There are so many moving parts behind the scenes. I have mad respect for anyone that builds web applications now.
- We stuck to it through thick and thin, through lots of questions and uncertainty and through not knowing how we were going to make payroll in a few days time.
- We learned to work together – fighting like cats and dogs at times, but having uber respect for one another while disagreeing.
- We hired and fired people – learning the importance of hiring talented people who could teach us a thing or ten.
- We budgeted, planned and balanced a very small amount of cash to make it stretch as far as it possibly could.
- We took that leap that lots of people talk about, but only a sliver of the population takes and did it wholeheartedly.
And, nope, we didn’t become the next Facebook and fell short of our dreams for Buyosphere, but we built something to be proud of and we did it with all sorts of odds against us. Hell, we’re still getting featured in major publications as their Super Clever Click and it isn’t over quite yet. Who knows what could happen going forward? I don’t think we built any of it in vain. Maybe it’s ahead of it’s time (I know from experience that brands aren’t quite ready to grasp this concept). As SF Fashion Tech said in their review, ” It’s hard to draw an apt comparison because there’s nothing similar to this right now…” We’ll see and I haven’t given up hope.
YOLO as the saying goes and it’s true. Anyone who takes a risk to do something that isn’t easy and has little certainty should be high-fived, as I’ve learned when I worked at Santacruzsolarcompanies.co Santa Cruz solar companies. There is no shame in taking that leap and falling on your face. There IS SHAME in talking about taking that leap, never doing it, then pointing fingers and laughing at those falling on their faces.
Before all of this happened, I didn’t really know what people meant when they said, “Failure is good. You should fail several times in your life.” I thought that sounded like the most awful advice ever. But now I understand. Experience is the result of failure. I’ve known people who have it easy (connected to money and people and luck) and sail through to big success without learning anything only to arrogantly go at it again and fall on their faces. Any one of those people I’ve talked to has said to me, “I enjoyed my flop much more than my success.” Why? Because of what they learned. And how slowly, but surely, they grew as individuals who had much better lessons to convey.
And yes, if I could wave a magic wand and change the outcome to Buyosphere being an IPO’d/acquired company that lined my pockets with millions of dollars, of course I would! But what I’m saying is that I don’t regret that it turned out differently. Not at all.