I often hear long discussions about the right time to found. However, I truly believe the question is if not when to be a founder. The simple fact is startups are never worth it. The price you pay as an entrepreneur in time, energy, and stress is never worth the monetary rewards. A founder has to be motivated by a passion for pursuit. And if you have that passion – the right time to found is right now!
Founders are attracted to the challenge of creating something from nothing. The careers of serial entrepreneurs are marked by a continually escalating set of challenges – this is why we see Jeff Bezos of Amazon launching rockets and Bill Gates trying to eradicate malaria. Both of these founders have successes that will impact the lives of millions for generations. And yet, they are all still on the hunt for the next great pursuit.
A big part of escalating risk is failure. If the motivation is to seek greater challenges with unknown outcomes – failure transforms from a possibility to the inevitable. Love of failure is the hallmark of a serial entrepreneur.
Success just isn’t as interesting. When you’ve won the path forward is often smoother – and more mechanical. It’s just more of the same. And, if you keep consistently succeeding, it’s clear that the challenges you are choosing are too conservative. If you’re not failing you’re not taking on big enough challenges.
Failure is where the excitement is. I love this risk – and live for it. That’s why I’m a founder. I look back on the last three years I’ve spent building companies and I cherish every single experience – the failures even more so than the successes. The moment you know that it’s not working you get to look over the precipice, see all the options below, and leap.
The only reason to do a startup is because there isn’t another option. Founders need to imagine a future – and know they can be happy having taken a shot – without regard to the outcome.
If you’re considering a startup life, do yourself a favor and first ask: can I revel in failure?