I just recently joined the team of writers behind Startup Edition and I'm really excited to contribute. Right after I joined, I noticed I'd just missed out on the weekly topic "why are you working at a startup?" Reading everyone else's thoughts got me thinking so much that this essay just kind of fell out of me, so I wanted to share it. You should definitely read the Startup Edition posts on this topic, too.
When I was training as an actor and focussing on building a career in the theatre, I read and listened to lots of interviews with successful actors. In doing so I noticed a common theme in the advice they gave to younger, or newer, actors. Quite often they would say if you can do anything else in the world besides acting and be happy, go do that.
It seems like strange advice for someone who's made a successful career in this very industry, but the more I looked into this advice, the more I understood it.
The thing about acting is that it's so incredibly hard to build a career and you face so much rejection along the way that you have to be doggedly determined to succeed. If you're convinced that you can't do anything else but acting, you're more likely to stay the course.
I think startups are a lot like this. It's a really tough road to go down if you choose to be an entrepreneur, and you face a lot of trouble and rejection along the way. Being so committed to your plight that you can't imagine doing anything else means you'll be less likely to quit in the face of trouble—because what option do you have but to keep going?
When Josh and I decided to work on Exist, I had to make a big decision to give up acting. I'm working full-time at Buffer, and there's no way I could manage two all-encompassing careers on the side. I chose the startup, and I'm not sorry I did.
The more you do it
Lately I've noticed that the more momentum we get with Exist, the more we want to do it. It's kind of a positive feedback loop, since the more you work on your startup, the more you want to do it all the time.
I'm incredibly lucky that while I'm working on Exist I can pay my bills by working for an open, fun company where I get to learn about all the facets of growing a startup. I've seen what it's like on the inside of a startup that's hiring and firing, working remotely around the world and even being hacked. Buffer's a huge opportunity for me to learn and take notes about how we'll do things at Exist, and I'm incredibly lucky for that.