Saturday, February 22, 2014

Doing startup in parallel with your job

Are you thinking of working on your startup in parallel to your job? Here is the news: It won’t happen.

Startup is tough. Startup is demanding. Startup is a roller coaster. You can’t do it while doing something else. You might be able to (very convincingly) fool yourself that you are doing your best while doing it in parallel but startup is 24*7 deal, you can’t do it part time. You'll work (it'll be more of trying-to-work) late nights or on weekends and feel good about yourself that you are working hard on your way to startup but feeling good is not same as delivering the product.

Why doing startup in parallel is a bad idea?

You won’t have sufficient time: If you wish to extract a few hours everyday for your idea execution then it won't be easy. Your job will keep you occupied. Your work will have phony deadlines, meetings for the sake of meeting, you'll have to deliver something howsoever useless that stuff is, your office water cooler gang will keep you busy, may be your have hordes of time in office but you need to pretend to onlookers that you’re very busy, may be you’ve to mandatorily spend 9 hours in office due to some shit office rule. Something or other will keep you away from your startup work in office. And if you manage to find some time to work on your stuff then: What if someone will look, what if someone will find out, what if your friend will ask you what are you doing, what if, what if and what if…… You’ll spend more time finding answers to what ifs than doing something constructive. Few days you might be able to devote more than 10 hours/day for your startup but otherwise it will be weeks when you’ll average less than 2-3 hours a days for your real work. Who has more success probability? The one who is focused and continuously slogging for 12 hours a day, day-after-day or the one who is somehow managing 2-3 hours a day that too with dissipated focus and energy?

Incremental Progress: If you are doing startup in parallel then because of smaller number of invested hours into startup you will not see incremental progress every day, every week. If you get stuck on some problem (and you’ll face a lot of them) then if you are working solely on startup then you’ve entire day, day-after-day, to solve the problem. But if you are solving something part time then you’ll take a few hours to get back to the problem, few hours to get into the groove and by then that day’s quota of limited hours would have been over. We work harder and with more passion when we see things are taking shape, when we see can see fruits of our hard work. If things are not taking shape or if they are not getting solved at expected pace then we lose heart, howsoever small dismay that may be. Incremental progress is the fuel to your dreams.

You will give up: Startup has lots of dark phases. There will be time - many a times - when nothing will seem to work and no solution seems to be in sight. Then you think of leaving. At the very least, you start to explore other options. When you have things going in parallel then you will have plenty of things to care for and plenty of second choices, so you unwillingly unknowingly give up during dark phases and move on to try other options. You might peace yourself with, “ I have given my best”. But with startup as the only option, you don’t have any other choice, you don’t have any other option. Either you fail or you succeed. So you will have to find some solution, some workaround to the problem. And there is always a solution a problem if you stay with it long enough and not give up. 

Reasons you are running things in parallel:

You are not convinced: If you are not doing startup full time then in simple terms you are not convinced. Either not convinced about your idea or not convinced of your capability. Both the cases are fatal. Stop wasting your time and go figure why you are not convinced.

If you are worried about your idea, then stop worrying. There is never a good idea. All ideas initially seem small, may-not-work-types. If you’ve done your homework and your gut tells that it’s kinda ok idea then get going.
If you are worried about your capabilities then give me one example when Superman founded a great company? None. People doing a startup do something because they really want to solve a problem, not because they can solve a problem. If you want then you’ll find ways to how you can.

I can’t start because of xyz reason excuse: Don’t have enough money to support yourself or your family? Need some backup money before you take the plunge? You want to gain some more experience in this field before you are ready? You are too young to start a startup or too old? You intend to start after 2 years? These are just excuses. There is never a founder who has enough money or enough experience or insanely great team before starting up. Everything gets done on the way, on the job. Trust your gut and startup.

You want to save your face: Startups fail. Oh yeah, majority of startups fail. If you are working on something in parallel then you have lots of excuses if your startup won’t succeed. “I didn’t have time”, “I was working on that other higher priority thing”, “this wasn’t a full time project it was just on trial basis”, “come on at least I tried” etc etc. But when you are working on startup full time then either you succeed or you fail. Nothing in between. No excuses.

Courage: You don’t have courage. Courage to think big, courage to take the leap, courage to execute, courage to stop giving excuses and stop fooling yourself, courage to stand up to your near and dear ones, courage to start. Finally it all boils down to courage. To start a startup you need courage, nothing else. Not money, Not being highly technically competent, not great team, no support of family or friends but ….Courage. Startup is so stacked up against odds that without courage you can’t beat the odds. By various means (education, reasoning, technology), you may be able to silence a few doubts, you may be able to sideline few obstacles, you may to able to beat few odds but to start despite ALL the odds needs Courage. If you don’t have courage to wholeheartedly dedicate yourself on the altar of startup then there is not much hope.

Job is a quagmire, especially if you don’t love it. Sometime you’ll cling to job for some promotion, sometime for next salary because you need that money for some important event, sometime you can’t leave because what will you tell your girlfriend, sometime you won’t leave because you’ll prove yourself irresponsible once again in your parents’ eye, sometime you need to get married so you can’t leave job, then you can’t leave because you’re married and need to run house, then who will have to pay fees of your kid and then….In short, You are screwed. Everyone wants to do a startup but how many of us finds time and dedicate that time for startup? The-job-you-don't-love kills your passion to conquer the world and s.l.o.w.l.y makes you from Alexander the great to yet another average guy.

Stop wasting time fooling yourself. Find courage to pursue your dream. That’s real you.

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