It was about this time last year that our startup came to the painful realization we weren’t going to survive. We made the tough decision, but the right one, to shut it down completely.
One year later I’m happy to report that there is life after death – financially and emotionally. Sure, I’ve been paying off a healthy chunk of credit card debt all year long. That part isn’t too pleasant, but it is manageable. We had financed a few major purchases to give our busy season the best chance possible, but it forced a make-or-break situation, which was pretty “break-y”. The tongue-in-cheek phrase I’ve really come to enjoy using: We did everything right…except make money.
Surprisingly, getting over the emotional hurdle of closing my startup’s doors wasn’t as scarring as I thought it would be. It really, truly did suck at the time. A year later and little more financially stable, I find it easy to look back on that 14 months and recognize it for the most intense, insane, gut-wrenching, waking up at 4am and can’t go back to sleep learning experience I’ve ever been through.
I hope to do it again someday, but not yet and not the same way. The scarring isn’t completely healed yet. I do still have startup acid flashbacks on occasion, especially when re-living a few of those über-stressful moments.
The biggest lesson: the foundation upon which the success of any startup will be built is the passion for the problem you are solving. As I think back on many of the startup tasks I did just to stay alive, I did them just to stay alive, not because I had deep passion about our mission. Instead I was passionate about starting a company, which is never enough. Lesson learned.