I do like the sound of the words “I have a startup”. It catches people’s interest pretty much instantly. You can see in their eyes the growing spark of envyand curiosity, that same spark that grows in my eyes whenever I listen to the tales of my freelancer friends.
Just like the idea of freelance work is associated in my head with hooking a Macbook to the wifi of a cool cafe in Ubud, the idea of startup work has been glamorised over the years by, well, Google. When one hears the word “startup”, one’s brain instantly travels to a fantasy world full of hammocks, freebies, awesome open plan office spaces and, obviously, a room dedicated to table tennis and Xbox. Obviously.
My startup life reveals no sign of such glamour.
Jealous? Of course! But then again, it brutally opened my eyes on a reality that Google has done a brilliant job at flying away from. Here I need to lay flat some factual pieces of my startup life.
FACT 1 – EVERY DAY IS A SCHOOL DAY
One of my favourite things in life is to LEARN. It is pretty much the one thing that keeps me sane and prevents me from getting dead bored.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I was the laziest bastard at school: one of those annoying students that would do their work casually at the last minute and still nail it just above the average mark. Which was great but also turned out to be a bit of a curse – let’s keep that one for another time.
Since I’ve been in employment, I’ve felt the need to master whatever skill or subject I was involved in at the time. Until there was nothing left to learn, at which point I would get bored and simply move on. This is where freelance and startup work tick a massive box in my head: you never stop learning.
“I’m fed up with always having to look for answers and things I don’t know about. I’m aways having to learn new systems“, was the confession of a fellow startup worker a few months ago. I was staggered: “why??” I asked, in disbelief. It made me sad. To me, if there ever was a “pros” to outweigh the “cons” of startup work, learning had to be it. I didn’t understand. Sure, being faced pretty much every day with a problem that surpasses one’s understanding can be pretty daunting at times, but the reward is only greater: new skill, new experience and sense of achievement.
This is obviously not everybody’s idea of fun and is one that requires a lot of passion, patience and perseverance. I’m not gonna lie, it is exhausting, and my friend’s words were the simple and logical result of that exhaustion (last time I checked, he was still knackered). But surprisingly, it’s that very same unpredictable (knackering) nature that keeps me fired up -sometimes super stressed out and pissed off too- and pushes me to carry on and move forward. For the best way to move forward is to go one step at a time!
I mean, even the founders of Google must have gone through some shit times before being able to enjoy the perks of a super stylish (hipsterish) office, right?
Well, I fucking hope so.
Otherwise I give up.
Next – Fact 2: Never give up.