Technical founders have nothing to lose

TL;DR :If you are in IT, and thinking about starting a company, do so. The bottom line is that nothing bad can really happen on a very personal level.

Introduction

A few months ago, well, a year ago, actually, I wrote about how the technical people where clearly the “lucky few” in the startup world. Should that not have been enough to push you to start a company, here is second piece of argument that basically resolve to:

You have nothing to lose.

Is starting a company is risky? 

Risk

Risk (Photo credit: The Fayj)

Basically, yes. That is, in comparison with working as an employee or contractor, it certainly is at leastriskier, on almost all levels. It includes more work, more stress, uncertainty about revenue (which personally I had never experienced until now), solitude (if you are starting alone), conflicts (if you have cofounder(s)), with a lot of indirect impact on your health, life balance and even friendships (when you work on something 60-80 hours per week, it also comes up more often in your conversation outside of those hours – which can be boring for the people around you, possibly including your Significant Other). So, having this risk in mind is probably a good idea when pondering to start.
 
It is even worse for us working in the IT sector, as our reference situation (as contractors or employees) is often quite good: we enjoy mostly regular hours and above average pay, for a job that does not involve major health risks (except the occasional mental insanity – and the fact that sitting is killing you). I’m not advocating whether it is due or not – just that it is.

So, what is the worse than can happen? 

Meteor

Meteor falling upon a startup (Photo credit: vork22)

 So, when thinking about a venture, it is difficult not to think about the worse that could happen. Well, lets describe this “worse”. A meteor can fall on your

 office, destroying all your work of the last twelve month. You can have a major conflict with your cofounder, resolving in both of you deciding never ever to speak to the other again. In a more typical story, your product/idea/service may just not work, despite your best efforts and major investment of time, energy and money. You can find yourself one morning deciding that you’re ok with a baby keeping you up at night, but not a startup.
 
In addition, you may have put personal money in the company. All those situation are perfectly possible (well, some more than others), with the same result: your venture is destroyed, and with it any change of profit or even recovering your losses. The product fail scenario let you two options : decide to stop… Or just do another one. As this post is about the worst situation possible, I’ll evacuate the (far more credible) “Well, looks like I miss. Let’s make another” situation out, concentrating on the apocalyptic scenario.
 
Now that you have this grim picture well in your head, let’s see why this is not exactly a problem.
  
 

  

It is the economy, stupid

Whatever can happen, IT is still a supplier market (meaning: there are more jobs open than there is people to fill them up). This means that should the above scenario happens, there is a very simple path out of it: if the company is in the red, start doing some consultancy work, pay back the debts, get back the money you have put in it, then close it gracefully.
 
On a personal level, find a job (or a contract) in a large company, do your work and hours there, pause and reflect. I’m not advising any laziness but let’s face is straight: in comparison to my first year as an entrepreneur, any job I could find in IT would probably be quite calm and relaxing.
 
Take three, six or twelve month just to get your work/life balance and your sleep hours back. Then reflect on the next move. Being an entrepreneur may not be for everyone, but why not try? For what is worth, this last year has probably be (work related) the most tiring, but also the most exciting. Whatever is further the road, I would not exchange it for another.

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4 thoughts on “Technical founders have nothing to lose

  1. Jeff

    Yeah, Technical co-founders have nothing to lose except lots of sleep when there’s a technical issue =D, in all seriousness, I’m all for joining or creating startups as a technical guy, a lot of times I just create little services for fun, some get a little use, other times they completely flop, but the feeling one gets when someone is using your product is definitely a big upper, and offsets the lows that inevitably happen.

    Reply
    1. Martin Post author

      Hello Jeff,
      Sleepless nights (or at least sleep deprivation) is something all founder should “expect”, not only technical ones. You’re right that it’s putting a lot of energy anyway (energy you could use for something else). Your explanation is basically the reason we started 8th color : the risk may be high and the work heavy, but we’re going foward with the idea of making a product that people want to use, that makes their life better.

      Thanks for your input !

      Martin

      Reply

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