The longer I coach and mentor within the startup community, the more I am struck about the tremendous personal insight achieved during the “startup journey.”
Your startup journey is not even close to being a piece of cake, a bowl of cherries, blue skies and rainbows. It’s devastatingly difficult work.
Along your startup journey, your startup onion slowly starts to unpeel itself. Layer by layer.
Your team does not fully buy into your startup concept. You are developing an App and find out that not everyone on your team uses it. Certain members of your medical device startup team are half-hearted in their output.
Your team isn’t coachable. Few members take the reins themselves and challenge other members for better input, better options, different perspectives of looking at the same problem. At the end of meetings, everyone still looks to you for direction and guidance. You feel more like a hand-holding project manager than you do a startup CEO.
Your team hasn’t bought into your Exit Strategy. To them, your startup is a grand hobby. The only means to an end it serves is to get a grade at the end of class. They are using it to obtain experience while they continue to look for other employment. They dabble while you slave. They are ho-hum while you are a heart-on-fire passionate startup brand evangelist.
Which means your startup isn’t close to being translatable and scalable.
You sit down along the road of your lonely startup journey. With your startup CEO head in your startup CEO hands.
Consider this: what has your startup taught you about YOU?
It could very well be that while your focus was all caught up in the life-and-death drama of startup funding and pitch competitions, you found out a heck of a lot about what makes you the consummate professional that you are.
You started your startup journey with a college degree, professional experience and the ability to wonder and ask “What if?”
How far along the “What if?” path have you traveled?? Farther than even you suspect.
You see, you are now far, far more than just another technical or engineering professional or MBA. You’ve actually gone “out there” and become a high value Person of Worth.
You’ve built an incredible, cross-functional, collaborative arsenal of knowledge and skills in fields you had no clue existed prior to your asking yourself, “What if?”
You are a CEO peer with other CEOs. Stop limiting yourself to giving advice in whatever area you earned your professional degree.
That was “then.” This is now in your startup journey.
You’ve grown entrepreneurial business chops. You’ve survived serious droughts in self-belief. You’ve even questioned your sanity, while managing to always pull yourself off the mental startup ledge.
Courage under fire.
Hmmm. That sounds like Leadership to me.
The next time you perceive yourself as another failed startup CEO, smack yourself along the side of your head for me, will you?
You are no charity case. You are not walking around with your hand out, asking for favors.
You are no failure. You are a leader.
Leadership under fire is what you now bring to everyone’s business table. You didn’t have that type of leadership hard-wired into you when you began your startup journey.
It just could be that your startup wasn’t really about your startup in the first place.
It just could be that your startup was the catalyst that led you to liberate your mindset from your own status quo.
Embrace it. You earned it.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, is a management consultant and business coach. She helps startups and small-to-medium manufacturing and service companies who have difficulty with unpredictable revenue streams. Her book on communication and collaboration strategies and tools, Do YOU Mean Business? Technical / Non-Technical Collaboration, Business Development and YOU, is available on Amazon.com.