door

Imagine everything you want for your new startup is on the other side of this door. Picture it in your head.

A great start. Growth. Happy customers. Great employees. Revenue. Profits. Endless potential. Tremendous value created.

This door has existed for every startup in history. They all had to open it and pass through the same way. Yes, Apple, Wal-Mart, and Facebook passed through the same door.

They all had to launch.

As founders we tend to come up with every excuse possible to not open this door. In the back of our mind, we know nothing is possible until we do, yet we freeze.

Fear sets in. Delays magically appear. We find more excuses to not open it. More delays.

When I ask a struggling to launch founder what is stopping them, the most common answer is a fear of a terrible launch. As if they will fail and shut down on week one if their launch doesn’t go great. I remind them that never launching is complete failure and all great companies take years to build, so they move onto the next fear… People hating their product/service. I remind them that any writer’s biggest fear is not that their book will get panned by critics, it’s that no one will even notice their book existed. I tell them that if people have strong feelings about their product, that’s a sign that they care. You’ve touched a real problem. Finally, they move onto the 3rd most common fear and that’s simply that their product isn’t yet exactly right. Not quite perfect enough to launch. I remind them that Apple “the perfectionist” has $202 billion in cash on hand and can gladly take 30 years to perfect its next product before running out of money. You don’t.Perfectionism is a disease, cure yourself.

Just launch already…

What’s on the other side of that door isn’t a raging inferno waiting to swallow your startup. The handle isn’t going to burn you for having the audacity to launch an imperfect product. You don’t get crushed by competition as soon as you open it. You don’t fail on the first step. Are there a lot of headaches and struggles waiting for you on the other side? Of course. That’s why real founders open the door, because if it was easy to survive as a new startup, there would be a line 50 miles long waiting to get through.

Do you want to know what is on the other side of that door? I’ll show you.

You step through hoping to see a well lit path to startup heaven, but the reality is the photo above. It’s a messy endless stairwell with no railing. Floor after floor of climbing and trying not to stumble off the side. Distractions and places to rest and quit the climb await at every level. Never knowing what awaits you around the next turn.

You are alone at first, if you are lucky your cofounder is there with you. Two flights in, you think, “I got this!”. Occasionally you run into other founders on the stairwell, with the same determination in their eyes. Fifty flights in, you look up through the sliver between the stairs and realize you can’t see where the flights end. It’s seems infinite. You realize you haven’t seen as many other founders these past few floors. You gather your strength and press onward.

Three hundred flights in you begin to understand. The real challenge, the real thing to focus on wasn’t “the door”. It was never “launching”… It was grinding out these stairs, day in and day out. Sweating it out and surviving. Each step one-by-one. Each flight one-by-one. Each floor of progress one-by-one…

The floors get progressively nicer and nicer as you go. More beautiful. The stairwell becomes more forgiving. The higher floors have a “revenue railing” to keep you from falling over the side. You notice you haven’t ran into more than a couple founders in the past 20 floors. Eventually you reach a floor that feels wonderful. The view is incredible. You don’t want to climb anymore, you simply want to enjoy this. You notice another set of co-founders reaches your floor. They stop, look around unimpressed, and keep climbing. Every founder’s idea of having made it to the top is different, so only you know when you arrive at the level that feels right.

As you look out over the towering skyscrapers of other various industries and think about the founders that must be toiling away, climbing up those stairwells. You pause and think back. You remember all the time you wasted being scared and pacing behind that door at the bottom. All that time wasted that should have been spent climbing those stairs instead. That your launch was one of the least influential parts of your journey. You look down below and see people shuffling around. It’s other founders-to-be, waiting at the same door, pacing back and forth. Fear in their eyes for what waits behind it. You gather all your breath and scream…

Just launch already!!!


PS — Today I Learned that Home Alone has just about every terrible thing that can happen to you on the other side of a door.

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This article was written from scratch and published the same day as part of a 31 day writing challenge. To follow me on Medium through this writing challenge, go here:https://medium.com/the-writing-challenge

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