I literally lost count of how many startups I’ve written the content for over the years. Trust me, it’s a long list.
Now, neither of these startups survived, not to mention reached the point of going public or being sold. All except one.
For the sake of my answer and professional integrity, I’m not going to name people and companies. I sure hope that’s understandable and acceptable. Also, I’m not going to bombard you with examples. I just need two to make my point.
So, there was a guy with a “brilliant” idea to develop a new WhatsApp. I thought, just the thing the world needs another WhatsApp, but I kept it to myself. Hey, it’s your money, so knock yourself out. But, here’s the thing about the startup founders. They’re always high on enthusiasm and they can’t keep their mouth shut. So, I had to write and listen at the same time.
Please don’t get me wrong. It’s easy to be a wiseguy. I really admire people who’re actually trying to build something for a change. And, above all, who put their money where their mouth is. Not because they’re paying for my writing, but because there’s a bunch of fellow freelancers who get hired during the process (designers, developers, translators, etc.).
But, here’s the thing. This guy and all other startup founders who failed had the same ol’ story. I’m going to sell it. I’m going to sell it.
They didn’t even finish their websites, and they’re counting the money from the hypothetical takeovers. Do you know how much money they got for selling it? Do you know? Do you know?
You’re writing and you can’t believe how people waste their time and money so recklessly and easily. But hey, who am I to wake you from your startup built-only-to-sell-startup dreams? Right?
So, I do my work, I’m paid for, and I move on.
And now, finally, about this startup minority report. These guys were different and they did things differently, from the very beginning.
I respect them and I got paid and rewarded fairly, that’s why I can share only this about them. They created some software solution (technically an app) one uber-popular global brand can’t imagine a single day without. They’re using it for creating brochures and catalogs that are later printed and distributed. I’m talking about thousands of employees (users). The corporation is paying a monthly license for every single one of them. The corporation is also saving millions of dollars each year thanks to this solution.
This time I was the one who couldn’t keep it to himself. I just had to know and ask. So, why aren’t you selling? I know your situation. You invested everything you have and don’t have into development and marketing. The bank is breathing down your necks. What are you waiting for?
These guys, brothers, by the way, were and still are something.
Hey, we didn’t get into all of this to sell. Our startup lives and dies with us. This is something we’re going to leave to our kids. Our startup isn’t for sale. Not now, not ever.
After you hear this kind of speech, you realize that the most important thing about startups isn’t to become rich. Yeah, I had to throw this rhyme. And yeah, I have to write something cheesy. I really believe it’s about the journey. At one point, you invest yourself so much that it becomes impossible to sell. There’s no money in the world to make you give away your startup baby.
So, it’s not the idea, it’s the attitude that makes all the difference.
There’s nothing wrong with being rightfully compensated for all of your startup troubles. You fight, bleed, grow, so one day you can drink a beer and enjoy the sunsets on your private island for the rest of your days. Or, whatever makes you and your loved ones happy.
And, yes, there are startup magicians, who build to sell, and then, they build again, and they sell again. More than once. Each time successfully. I respect that, but I don’t admire it.
Time to wrap up my answer. If you’ve just started to build something and you’re already thinking about selling it - good luck with that. Unfortunately, greed and impatience are the biggest mass startup killers in business history.
I have to go. The next startup is waiting for the content to be written. Let’s see what these guys are made of. Are they already dreaming about selling or are they determined to keep on fighting, and keeping their startup for themselves?