As a founder, it’s always been a dream to hit that 7 digit number in revenue. $1M dollars sure has a nice ring to it. After 2 years, 10 months, 21 days, and less than $80k in funding, the LocalAdventures team has done it! We’ve hit the bar, $1M of bookings for 2018.
For an outsider, it may seem like overnight growth. That our startup might be entitled to succeed after reaching this point. Not the case, let me share the blood, sweat, and tears it has taken to achieve it. I hope this can help you in your business trials and tribulations.
This article is divided into several mindsets that have been crucial for LocalAdventures to grow: (I’ve omitted some obvious answers)
- Think of yourself as the stupid one.
- Work hard and get nowhere.
- Who’ll cut the rope for you?
I’m an ultra marathon runner. I’ve finished 10 ultra marathons, ranging from 50k to 100k. Imagine that you have ran 70k but you still have 30 more kilometers uphill to go, this is where you really become an ultramarathoner. The ability to mentally handle pain and keep going, it’s what gets you to the finish line.
With entrepreneurship it’s always an ultra marathon, it is the ultimate test of human endurance. There are really high highs, and bottom deep lows. In those situations, it’s the ability of the team to handle the pain and persevere that makes the company live another day.
There’s a chapter in the book The Hard Thing about Hard Things that talks about “The struggle”
The Struggle is when you are having a conversation with someone and you can’t hear a word that they are saying because all you can hear is the Struggle. The Struggle is when you want the pain to stop. The Struggle is unhappiness. The Struggle is when you go on vacation to feel better and you feel worse.”– Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things
I have had that feeling several times as an entrepreneur. Maybe not enough times… that’s something to keep in mind for the future. My medicine for those hard times has been talking to fellow founders. Knowing that someone has gone through similar situations, is encouraging and their words can make a difference.
Think of yourself as the stupid one.
This is a difficult mindset, mainly because it’s easy to have an ego as an entrepreneur with a Type A personality.
However, thinking about myself as the stupid one is the way I try to approach every business interaction. I’m not saying to listen to everyone or that everyone is smarter than you, but when you talk to someone with this mindset, you become humble and you let yourself really hear their point of view and it lets you consider the things others are saying. Later you can decide what were the useful takeaways.
I have received invaluable advice from really successful CEO’s, but also from customers I’ve just met.
Customers, advisors, investors, mentors, your team, your partners, you never know who can give you a great piece of advice. I challenge you to show your app or website to your not-so-techy aunt and let her use it, you will understand important UX mistakes by the feedback she gives you.
Work hard and get nowhere.
We all heard that “Hard work makes the dream work”. But something I’ve learned the hard way, it’s not always true. In the past I discovered that putting in more and more work hours wasn’t growing the business.
I tried to figure out why this was happening, the conclusion was, that our revenue was growing, but we weren’t as professionals, we were doing the same activities as before. It was time to evolve.
Delegating, making better processes, setting OKR’s (Objectives and Key Results), and improving our projections. We had been working hard enough, but we needed to be working smart enough.
A great example of this is Mexican farmers, they are some of the most hard working people I’ve met, but sadly, the hard work only pays off to a certain extent if they are not business minded. To become a successful entrepreneur, you have to work your ass off and showing some intelligence on how that time spent.
Who’ll cut the rope for you.
When I was kid, my dad took me to the movies to watch Vertical Limit. The first scene of the movie it’s about a dad and his daughter rock climbing. They fall and keep hanging from the rope, but the anchor is not strong enough to hold them both, so the dad takes out his knife and cuts his rope to save his daughter.
In the start-up game, we have less risky situations, but stressful enough. I’ve been lucky to have co-founders that will figuratively, cut their rope for me. There has been several times where one of us has had to suffer the consequences of somebody else’s decision, what has made us stick together is the camaraderie and knowing that we’re in this together. The stakes are high, but we’ve happily chosen this path from any other.
Similar to one of our customers starting an adventure, starting a company has challenged me to limits I didn’t knew I could handle. I’ve experience good and bad situations. The odds on startups succeeding over time are against us. But the low probability that we have of succeeding and the commitment we have with our founders, investors, families, team and community, makes this not just a job, but life’s mission. Maybe I sound too romantic… but let’s keep the poker face for harsh times. We beat the odds in 2018, and will continue to persevere!
I’d love for you to share your point of view or your personal experience reaching goals that you have set for yourself or your business, please leave your comments below.