Startups are not a Sprint

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Startups are not a Sprint

It is funny how startups have become more and more popular. Since Hollywood made The Social Network and HBO made the Silicon Valley show, more and more people have tried to get into the startup world. It is also incredible how many startups don’t solve real problems, have no real drive and ultimately fail. The main reasons for failure is that a company doesn’t have the finances to survive or doesn’t find customers for what they are selling. Investment for startups, whilst not easy to get, is rather accessible. If you can show good metrics over a period of a few months, it shouldn’t be rocket science to get some funding.

What a lot of people do not realize about startups is that it is a bloody hard struggle. There are no pats on the back and you are mostly on your own fighting a prolonged battle that you have no foresight into how it is going to end. It is not easy! Working a 9 to 5 in a corporate job has many advantages over a startup such as starting work at a set time and finishing at a set time. You do not take your work home with you, with a startup and especially if you are a founder, it will consume you; 24 hours a day. The battle is real and when people ask you how things are going or what you are doing it can be somewhat hard to explain.

The Past Week

The past few weeks have been especially slog worthy for me and the team at Roomfilla. We have been working on some super cool new features (more on that later!) and it pretty much put us into a position of ordering all of our internal processes so we can take them to the next level as we continue to scale. I love to automate things. Automation gives you a ton more time and is super cool when done right. Unfortunately, what needed to be done could not be automated which means that it was one super hard, long slog to get right involving lots of spreadsheets, lots of sore eyes and little sleep.

Completing these massive tasks gives you time to sit back and take count of where you are. Never did I think that I would create a company that would help those offering accommodation get more bookings. Never did I think that we would have created thousands of bookings, helped countless people have their dream holidays and operate all across Southeast Asia but whilst reflecting, we still had this massive task to do. It took us just over a week to do. My average sleep for the past week must have been around 4.5 hours per night. It is amazing what your body and mind can accomplish when you put yourself to it.

Hacking Sleep

Sleep is one of those things that everyone needs. It helps you to recharge and also makes you feel fresh. Too much sleep and you feel groggy, too little sleep and you feel… groggy. We all hear these tales about these executives who claim to get by on so little sleep so I thought I’d try and figure out how much sleep I really need to function. The results kinda surprised me and made me realize that pretty much whatever time I go to sleep, I will awake at the same sort of time. In essence, squeezing an extra hour or two at the end of the day can do wonders in providing that extra productivity for those who want to get a lot of things done.

Roomfilla started as a project purely by me, for which I run it alone for 15 months before taking on the first employees. It started as a side project and was mainly grown from the time I finished my work during the day until I went to sleep. Everyone will find they are productive at different times of the day. I tend to find that the period between 7PM and 2AM is where I can get the most work done. This is where the bulk of the early work on Roomfilla was done and where I can continue to surge ahead with the development as we continue to grow.

Knowing what I do now about my own sleep patterns and when I would normally arise, I can keep pushing hard until this time and wake up at pretty much 8AM on the dot most days even if I take an extra hour or two on some days. I really don’t want this post to be a ‘how little sleep you can survive on’ but this is what works for me. Yes, there are some moments during the day where I could probably do with a nap but overall, the added hours add productivity if you keep focused. From my viewpoint, working longer and more focused knowing the times that work best for you is the best way to get ahead.

Startups are not a Sprint

Bringing things back to the title. We completed this massive task earlier today. It was a super achievement for the team and I am happy that it is done, but on the face of things nothing has changed. Nobody got a medal or a trophy, nobody outside the company would even know or care. It is simply another thing to move over to the DONE pile and back to the next tasks which are needed to be complete. Startups can be lonely, super lonely. There are no high fives. There is no A grade for completing one project. This thing just keeps going and going. You really shouldn’t start a company unless you are willing to commit 10 years to it at a minimum.

The 100m sprint is over in 9.5 seconds. A marathon takes over 2 hours to complete. There is no genius solution to making your company a success. The only success is found by working damn hard and keeping focused to the ultimate goal. Keep going and going. Nobody is cheering you on, nobody cares but you are consumed by the company you created and love the struggle. Loving the struggle is part of the game, I genuinely believe that the best startup founders are immune to dealing with shit on a daily basis. Immune and relish in the challenge of the struggle and making things happen. Did I convince you to start a company?

 

stuartl

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