Yeah, I’ve been putting a ton of my waking hours into Automated Insights, the VC-backed startup where we create automated and personalized content for millions and millions of people. I do this because, as an entrepreneur, I want to see AI succeed. Bad. Without splitting hairs (family, etc.), it’s one of my top priorities.
But when I do this, those other priorities tend to suffer. Time with my family, working on ExitEvent, time spent doing the other things I enjoy and make me a well-rounded person. And since I don’t want those things to suffer, I write articles at 3:00 in the morning, I ignore illnesses until a general feeling of awesomeness returns, and I check data discretely during awkward times like the movie theater and Thanksgiving dinner.
I’m joking. I haven’t been to a movie theater since the second Batman.
My point is, if you believe anything about startup communities (and to be honest, I’m usually on the fence about a lot of it), one tenet that everyone seems to agree on is this leaders-and-feeders theorem that suggests that said communities have to be led by the entrepreneurs themselves — not the government, the corporations, the 503cs, or the investors, but the actual people building the actual businesses.
The problem is, these are the exact same people expected to, by the very nature of who they are, put 25 of their 25 hours in a day into building those companies.
There’s a dichotomy here, eh?
This can only be accomplished when the idea of building the startup community is considered a necessary part of the tasks associated with building the startup itself. And even though it should be an 80/20 kind of thing, actually more like 99/1 if you want to get technical about it, you can’t take your foot off the gas.
The same is true in the timeline of any entrepreneur, any startup, and any startup community. I’ve got people on my team who are awesome, and for some of them, it’s their first time being awesome. My constant advice to these people is: Don’t get complacent.
Don’t let our initial success blind you or allow you to get comfortable with the trappings of where you are, because things change quickly. Be vigilant, make everything around you better. And once you’ve done that, make it better again.
In terms of a startup, these are known as milestones. And your reward for hitting your latest milestone? You get to start working on the next milestone. It’s the same fuel that has powered me throughout my career. I work really, really hard every day to make sure I can come back tomorrow.
The same can be said for any startup community, emerging, established or otherwise. It’s easy to get caught up in looking at the past and bask in the glow of all that’s been accomplished. Not that these successes shouldn’t be celebrated, every milestone should, as loudly as possible.
But like any championship team, you blow it out the night you win and then show up the next day to start working on the next season. And you do so knowing it’s going to be twice as hard because you’re going to get everybody’s best shot now.
I don’t know about your startup community, but that’s where mine is, at a point where we’ve made huge strides and established ourselves worthy of most of the hype we’ve gotten. But that’s no reason to rest.
So entrepreneurs, whether you’re exiters, serials, late-stagers, early-stagers, or ideamongers, make sure you keep fostering this community you’ve worked so hard to develop, because if you don’t, someone will step in and do it for you and you’ll be right back where you were five years ago.
Or worse, it’ll just go away. All that hype seems permanent now, but lately I’ve been hearing lots of great things about Cincinnati.