Startup Journal: Finding Motivation and Learning to Trust
One benefit to driving a startup is the network of close bonds you form with those around you. Your co-workers come first in all situations. They're your teammates, your biggest fans, and your most honest critics.
They're where you find motivation, and they're the reason you keep selling instead of getting distracted by Snapchat. They’re angels.
They're also the reason there's never any coffee, and why the one bathroom is always taken. You also have to wear their “hats” on any given day while so-and-so takes their wife to the doctor. They're the devil.
Relationships in a startup are truly the spice of life. That goes for relationships built with prospects and users, too. A fantastic phone call can make your day. Losing the wrong account can break it.
Our marketing guy makes my life easier. Our customer service guy cares more about our customers than my comfort, which is probably a good thing.
Sometimes things are great! On the other hand, it's easy to lose motivation, which is hard to get back once it's gone. I sit in the middle of everything and wonder, "Why do I put up with this?"
In a startup, none of your teammates are at the office to simply work. They show up to accomplish.
I chose my words “driving a startup” at the beginning for a reason. If you show up to “work,” you and everybody else around you is screwed.
Working is just another way to say “putting in the required time/effort to meet expectations.” Meeting expectations is not winning. It's not driving a startup.
Driving a startup is the essence of not knowing how tomorrow is going to turn out, but doing everything in your power to make sure that goals are met.
Winning is seeing your personal hand print on the company’s life every day, and knowing that you didn’t just meet expectations.
Driving a startup is creating a little chaos of your own, and doing what it takes to manage that chaos.
This desire to drive a new idea, to convince the world of your perspective, and to create a little chaos shows itself in different ways.
One member of our team leaves precisely at 5 every day, knowing he needs to recharge his batteries in order to put forward his best the next day.
Another teammate plugs in his headphones, and won’t accept any distractions for hours at a time as he grinds through analysis and projections.
A third teammate pitches our service and its benefits to literally everybody. All of his business contacts know the details. Like any good entrepreneur, he brings up the topic so frequently that his friends have an intimate knowledge of the company.
All of these things are motivating.
If I'm ever wondering who my lack of motivation will hurt, all I have to do is look around me. Problem solved!
If I don’t hit sales front, back, and center, I’m wasting the time of my partners. I'm hurting their motivation, and the goals we're all after.
When it comes down to it, being part of a startup leaves you no time to worry about whether anybody else knows what they're doing.
Trying to know everybody’s job through and through is a waste of time. If you’re not trusting that your marketing guy either knows what he’s doing or will figure it out, you’re going to miss out on your own opportunities.
When your customer service guy relays to you the effects that a certain sales technique has on your churn rate, you’re an idiot if you don’t shut up and pay attention.
You don’t have to choose the routes suggested by other departments, but it’s certainly in your best interest to thoughtfully weigh what they suggest. They will see things you don’t. It’s that simple.
In a startup, trust becomes everything. Trust is no longer a workplace cliche or the motto written above your boss’s desk. Trust is necessary for success.
Because of these relationships, the need to accomplish something is always present. Sooner or later, just doing something, even if it’s a half-baked idea, is better than sitting around trying to figure out what to do next.
Cold calls seem to be one of the worst ways to get clients since the beginning of gatekeepers and voicemail. But while waiting on higher-yield methods to come through, I need to pick up the phone and try my luck.
At the end of the day, “do no harm” doesn’t apply, because the fear of causing harm can freeze me into trying nothing at all. In a startup, the worst harm you can do is doing nothing.
That vibe hits your teammates square in the teeth and messes with their motivation.
It's a very intimate environment. We're huddled together in one room all day. One person losing motivation is poison to an operation like this.
We squeak by with little money, but losing sight of the dream, even for a moment, means that we will splinter and fail.
It’s really quite simple. Startup life is any other business life amplified. The smallest successes seem huge. The biggest setbacks must be ignored.
Relationships are the center of the universe, and each person's motivation is the key to paradise. The success of the team must become a part of each teammate's larger goal.
If not, lethargy, apathy, discouragement, and finally a sense of failure will result.
-- Foster Benson, Account Executive