“It’s the Finals. It’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard.” After Game 2 of the NBA Finals Steve Kerr said this to Steph Curry as they walked through the tunnel to the locker room after a loss.
What’s true for basketball is also true for startups - at least in this case.
With all the news of unicorns and IPOs and acquisitions driven by the broader market, teams can fall into a trap to think building a startup into a success is easier for others.
But I can tell you more than 12 years into my career as a venture capitalist, it’s hard. It’s always hard. Even for the ones that make it look easy from the outside.
We’ve had the privilege to partner with some iconic companies. Let me pull back the curtain: all of them have had their tough days. Missing a quarter. Failing to close a key hire. Receiving a rejection, or 20 nos, from potential financing partners. Struggling to re-energize after a derailed acquisition process. Fearing the rise of a competitor. Cutting costs to reduce burn and buy time to get the product right. Rebuilding trust after arguments amongst founders. Managing the psyche of a team throughout the rollercoaster of everyday startup life.
Today, every company wrestles with one significant additional complexity: managing a remote team. How do you engage people over Zoom? Maintain the culture? Keep connected? Manage burnout? Those are the questions I hear in every board meeting. They’re real, meaningful, and challenging.
It’s a startup. The company’s goal is to change the world, quite literally, by building a product, evolving user behavior, and sometimes creating a category.
It’s hard. It’s meant to be hard. You’re changing the world.