Pulling the plug.
Recently I bumped into a blog called My Startup has 30 Days to Live.
It chronicles the downfall of a “bootstrapped and profitable startup” that’s just shy of two years old. Yes, it’s about a tech company that jumped on the “VC rocketship,” and not a service business, but it shares a side of entrepreneurship that’s so often hidden behind closed doors. A peek inside a business that may look successful on the outside but in reality is going down.
The blogger (who along with his company remains anonymous) shares regrets about not challenging the business-building advice of others, similar to the accounts I share in my book about blindly following others because you believe they know more or have more experience.
The truth is, it’s easy to doubt ourselves when we’re surrounded by others we believe know more than we do. We get caught up doing what these other people, who we believe have our best interests in mind, advise us to do. When in reality their advice may be more closely tied to their interests.
We have the power to say NO but very often we don’t.
And, ultimately we’re the ones who pay the price for the failure that follows.
As the dying startup blogger shares…
“This is where we made the first in a series of many mistakes…. We listened to our investors… They were proven entrepreneurs that had made millions (sometimes nefariously…) and they believed in us. If only we would….”
“We drank the Kool-Aid and went all-in.”
“What bothers me most is that I lost my head, ignored my training and didn’t stick to my guns. I had the power to reject these suggestions, at the risk of being labeled as un-coachable, and do as I pleased.”
“These men never put a gun to my head, never threatened me into making the decisions I did. I just didn’t challenge them.”
First, I applaud this blogger for pulling back the curtain and showing the reality of business… the side we don’t often get to see. Sure, everyone talks about surviving failure and learning from it, but very few actually share the inside story so others can learn from it, too. Bravo to this blogger for sharing openly, even if anonymously.
Second, I hope this will serve as a reminder (as I also hope my book does) to trust your gut and not always assume the coaches or advisors know best. Listen to their advice. But if it goes against every fiber of your being, don’t be afraid to challenge it. Heck, even if it just doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to step back and consider the potential of NOT following it.
Ask yourself what you have to lose if you take your own path instead.
Remember, the people we pay money to, or take money from, always have an agenda. They have their own business and their own profits to be mindful of. I’m not saying there aren’t advisors or coaches who really do have your best interest in mind. But in the end, as an entrepreneur, you’re ultimately the one in charge of YOUR business.