Startup issues: Am I the only one who cares?
Telling people you’re going to start your own company often sounds more impressive than it actually is. Especially when you’re planning on taking a long-winded B2B route, working with third parties, and operating in a language that most people don’t understand. It’s easier to tell people that you’re just making an app – even if that’s a long way down the road.
The no.1 question startup founders are asked is probably one of these: “What’s new?” “How far have you got now?” or “Is your business growing yet?”. For some reason, the rest of the world believes that creating a startup is a lot quicker and simpler than it actually is. To be fair, that’s probably how most co-founders felt before they started as well.
The process can go at a good pace however, that is, if you’re not the only person pulling all the weight. Deciding to startup a business with a friend is all well and good when you’re both unemployed, but things change very quickly when one person’s priorities change. How I envy those student tech genii who create the next IBM or Uber during their Summer holidays.
My co-founder and I came up with the idea for our company after becoming disillusioned with the graduate market, especially after we were told that studying Chinese would mean the job world would be ours for the taking. After a quick brainstorming session we had our great idea, told a few people (who re-affirmed that our idea was great) and….then did nothing about it for about 3 months. Baring in mind I had a job at the time, I quit my job and decided to take up part-time work to dedicate more time to our project. This was round about the time my co-founder got a job. Priorities in shift, this is where problems began to emerge.
Though we were (are?) both enthusiastic in theory, it seems that the person with the most free time ends up doing most of the heavy lifting. I didn’t really mind writing the business plans, setting up meetings with our mentor, forming presentation slides in English and Chinese, setting up the business, getting a bank account, making the website, writing all our content and maintaining the Twitter account, until I realised that that was everything that we had achieved so far. The one thing that she had been tasked with, the logo, has yet to be drafted, let alone completed.
I understand work takes its toll and it can be difficult to balance work, life and extra work, but if I had the full-time job and someone else was writing my business plan, I’d at least take the time to check in once or twice and proofread it. And here’s me reading all these LinkedIn articles about how people have a full-time job, do the school run, pay their bills and start a business all at once. Maybe I’m asking too much? Or maybe the problem is that I’m not asking at all…
My mentor said to me the other day “So, you’re the CEO right?”. I resisted the urge to say “Well, do you see anyone else at this table?” and instead opted for the polite, sensible “Well, I think we’re still at the ‘co-founder’ stage.”. He just nodded and smiled.
He has a family, a full-time job and a startup of his own.