If you’re going to run a startup, you have to be able to accept a certain level of uncertainty.
You never know what’s going to work – or not work. Will this social media approach be the right one? Will this blog topic generate a bunch of views? Will going to this conference lead to good sales leads? Well, how about going to that conference? Is this a good route to reach individual consumers? Are we sending out newsletters often enough? Are we sending out newsletters too often? Often it feels like marketing is just a lot of throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. (Not to mention, a occasional desire to throw a computer against the wall when a problem just seems to be irresolvable – that is not recommended.)
You never know who is going to be a perfect hire. Well, there’s probably not even such a thing as a perfect hire – but at least a good fit. We’ve had people who come highly regarded end up failing to meet the job expectations – sometimes by a lot. We’ve had people who came in for an internship and we thought, “Well, we’ll see how this person develops” – and ended up incredibly impressed by their growth and kept them on. We’ve had people who are doing a fine job and who are certainly worth what we were paying them, but not like we were getting a bargain. And people who we feel incredibly lucky to have. Sometimes, the people you think will be a great addition turnout not to be. Sometimes, the person you take a chance on turns out to be a great addition.
You never know where you should be concentrating your time, money and efforts. In a perfect world, the answer would be everywhere all the time. However, in the real world, you will find that there are only 24 hours in a day and a finite amount of money in your bank account, which means you have to figure out where you should be focusing. Should you put the bulk of your efforts toward development so you can make your product better? Should you shift money, time and efforts to marketing? Because what’s the point of having an awesome product if no one knows that they should buy it. It feels like you’re constantly trying to balance of those two-sided scales but you can never get them to balance out perfectly in the middle.
You never know when that inflection point is going to come. You know the part where your “hockey stick growth” starts to shoot upward as opposed to looking like a heart-rate monitor read out. Building a company is ups and downs. You have a great month where you have the most sales ever and you think, “This is it!” And then you have another month where you feel like you’re grinding it out and no one seems to be buying anything. You get a surge of new users one month and a trickle of new users the next. Or it’s, up, up, up, neutral, little bit down, little bit up, little bit up, neutral, neutral, drop, up, up and on like that seemingly for infinity. It’s looking at the books and constantly calculating how much runway you have – and reassuring yourself that is more than enough to get to your inflection point, even though you have NO idea when that will actually happen.
The reality is with startups you never know what’s going to be the “make” – as in make-or-break (that there rarely is a singular make or break). So you keep working at it and keep doing what you think are the right things because the one thing you do know is that all of those efforts keep moving you forward.
While it’s not possible to know all the right answers when it comes to building a startup, you can get all the answers right when playing our games – and if you don’t know how to solve a problem, we help teach you how! Check out the awesome games we make that teach math!