Working With Start-Ups: The Joy and The Pain

We’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of start-ups over the years, whether they are entrepreneurial, start-from-scratch new enterprises or in-house new concepts launched by mega conglomerates. Whatever their ilk and/or composition, start-ups are their own interesting beast. To start, driven, passionate, creative and mercurial leaders most often power these types of enterprises. You can’t go ‘out there’ with what you hope is a brand new idea, face the wolves of the marketplace, never mind the capricious consumer without having a nerve of steel. Unfortunately, this type of personality can be a bear to work with. Our job is often spent in equal measure managing an ego as much as helping shepherd forward a revolutionary idea. Sadly, we don’t get graded on our counseling techniques. It’s a bottom line business and our ability to keep the leader calm won’t count for much if we aren’t delivering on our scope.

Start-ups can be fun. Braving new territory, shifting paradigms, changing perceptions. All in a day’s work. But start-ups can also be enervating as programs change to accommodate new research and make way for unexpected competition. The sharing society we inhabit is great for so many things, but it can also mean good ideas get snapped up by bigger, better funded, more agile enterprises.

And start-ups can be frustrating, especially if you are in early, because if the thing works it is only going to get better. Ideas will become more focused, resources will become more available and all the early days bootstrapping you did may be less appreciated than you had hoped. It’s easier to fly once you’re off the ground.

Here’s the thing: we love start-ups. As the forever optimist we’ll take them on, but we won’t pretend its always fun and we know it is never easy. Still, one day we just might get the chance to work with the next Google. You just never know.