What I learned from my “Failed” Start-Up?

Today, a meeting pretty much marked the end of the Start-Up.

A friend and I decided to start a company a few months ago and we have been spending quite some time on it and made some progress.

But we kind of decided to kill it today.

I know I did not mention this adventure much in this blog, if any at all. I always thought it would be a long shot and I did not get my hope high.

Now it surely seems to be a self-proving prophecy.

We had many things…

I have to say that we had a good start because we had many things entrepreneurs would cry for.

1.We had money and support

Even before we decided to kick start the whole thing, we had an investor.

He is willing to invest quite a handsome sum that could last us for 2–3 years at least.

And he owns his own company and he promised support, e.g. on marketing material, client network, licensing products etc

Of course, he would require shares and we discussed and reached a mutually agreed arrangement.

2.We had time

Like any start up, a lot of time and work was required.

Luckily, we both could spare the needed time, without affecting our life and work.

We had to work till 2 or 3 in the morning for a few times and had to burn a few weekends, but mostly, our work allowed enough room for us to do the needful without affecting our time with family.

And we can continue this kind of commitment at least until we have something serious ongoing and then we could explore hiring someone or even getting full time.

3.We had connections

We both knew people who would need our solutions.

And we both knew people who can provide some of the solutions.

We could easily act as middleman in the beginning before we established our own solutions capabilities.

…However, it was what we lacked that led to the end

We had many good things to start with.

But two things we lacked, namely “Want” and “Need”, caused lack of commitment from both of us, which eventually led us to ending the adventure.

“Want” and “Need” is usually used to guide us on spending decisions to reduce expenses and save money.

However, I find them perfectly fitting here.

They are really good things, without which motivation and resilience becomes abstract.

1.We lacked the “Want” — passion

We both believe that we can manage bigger and better things.

We both believe that our jobs do not provide enough room for our full potential.

We also both believe that our solutions are capable of improving the efficiencies of the industry.

However, we do not have to have it.

We do not lose sleep if we do not have it.

So I would say the passion is not present.

2.We lacked the “Need” — pressure

We both have families and some net-worth.

He always has a job and I have a job now too.

While we do welcome the extra money and impact that this adventure could potential bring us, we do not really have the need.

We do not need the revenue of the start-up to feed our families or pay the bills.

Therefore, neither of us was willing to quite our job and became full-time on this.

Therefore, things moved slowly sometimes.

Therefore, we became less determined upon frustrations.

Therefore, when it became clear that he would need to go through a lot of applications to secure the approval to be the direct of the company, we kind of decided to stop there…

A bit Self-defense, if you will

Before we come to the end, I do want to be fair to ourselves too.

The whole situation is still a long shot.

The relations with the investor is more complicated than what I could describe here.

The revenue-generating activities are still a bit unsecured. We had some pipelines and we had quite a few interactions and we faced difficulties, such as lack of willingness to spend despite the clear demand etc.

This commitment did pose some potential roadblocks on other aspects of our career and lives, such as when we evaluated whether to take another offer etc.

So at least, the situation is not exactly that we just gave up a start-up with good perspectives, due to laziness or whatever, which you might come to feel from what I wrote above.

However, there are lessons to be learned!


1.So really, it is not the lack of opportunities, but rather how we choose to do with them

It is easy for everyone to complain lack of opportunities — I can at least do as well, most likely better, if I had his/her background, education, beauty, platform or even luck.

However, as we all slowly realize, everyone has their own opportunities.

Everyone also has their own good and bad luck.

Everyone gets to enjoy their own periods of smooth growth, and everyone inevitably experiences their own frustrations and set-backs.

But it is really what we choose to do that makes a difference.

Are you willing and brave enough to take the risks and put in the hard work to go for it?

And many times, the former could be so much harder than the latter.

At least, congratulations to myself! I just lost the right to complain that “I did not have the opportunities”.

2.Start-Up is hard

It is a hard path.

Even with so many things to start with, this was a still a very hard journey for us.

We were doing it in our spare time.

We can only imagine the hardship and stress for anyone who is full time on this and who is dependent on the success of it.

We logically assessed that we could have a good chance of succeeding comfortably.

We were completely wrong.

3.“Want” or “Need” leads the way

It is hard to have something extraordinary unless we have to have it!

We have to have it either because we have enough passion or we have enough need.

These are the good things.

In a way, how much one can achieve is determined by how much “Want” or “Need” he has.

For someone who has nothing, it is clear that he has to go out and fight.

For someone who already has something, the choices become less clear — he will need to evaluate the options: settle with what he has or go out there to fight for more with 1)more hard work he has to put in and 2) the risk of losing what he has now.

Sooner or later, what he has will reach a threshold where settling becomes the clear choice.

And the “Want” or “Need” determines the threshold for everyone.

4.Good buddy is invaluable

It is going to be harder for someone to accomplish something alone.

Therefore, a buddy who you trust and trusts you, share the same belief and is on similar level of “Want” or “Need” is invaluable.

There is a high chance you can work together and increase the odds.

If you recognize one, do not let him go. At least, stay in tough and watch out for potential opportunities.



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