Every so often I run across a startup podcast that has a bunch of lessons in it, so it’s difficult to choose just one. That happened with this podcast. Every few minutes I was taking down a new lesson, so I figured the best thing to do was to mention them all.
In this podcast, the co-founder of ModCloth made three main points that really resonated with me…
1) It’s important to celebrate your wins** (at minute 18:33) – The characteristics that make you a successful founder might also make you susceptible to overlooking important milestones that are important to celebrate for your team.
2) Passion, persistency & intelligence matter more than domain experience** (at minute 27:38) – Disruption often comes from outside of an industry, so don’t be afraid of starting something in a space where you are inexperienced.
3) The purpose of what you do is what makes an enduring startup** (at minute 34:44) – Great startups are not opportunistic businesses developed to make money. In great startups a strong mission that team members, partners and investors can believe in deeply comes way before any notion of financial gain.
Recently I was discussing the topics of passion and purpose with Chau Nguyen, founder/CEO of Hirewire and one of my favorite local entrepreneurs. Chau says that a new startup idea has to be an “obsession” of the founder. Chau says, “getting their ideas built and into the world is all that they can think about. They can’t not do it. There is no choice in the matter.”
He says that most founders get this wrong. Because they are their own boss, they try to have work-life balance. “The best founders don’t have work-life balance…it’s all they think about waking-up and going to bed at night, so all they want to do is work on the problem” says Chau. He says he knows when he’s ready to start something new when he’s loving every minute of working on a problem to the point of obsession.
So how does Chau think about burnout? He says, “you only get burned-out working on things you don’t love.” “If you love something, working 80 hours a week won’t feel like work, but you can barely work 40 hours a week on things that you don’t love.”
Chau likes to share a quote with his team – “Play now and pay later or pay now and play later…either way you are going to have to pay.” If you are going to do a startup, he says to do it as young as possible because you have more time and energy.
Lastly, Chau has the enviable title of “serial entrepreneur,” but he finds it funny when people ask what he’s going to do next. He says, “you can only have one love at a time. You have to dedicate so much for one thing and throw everything at it because the odds are so stacked against you with any new venture.”
David Payne is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Switchyards, a consumer-focused startup hub in downtown Atlanta. You can read more about his startup journey here. Follow him on his blog and Twitter.
Images credited to Jason Seagle.