I’m a fan of the entrepreneur, all of them/us. I believe in risk…or more accurately: putting it all on the table at some time or another. The testicular fortitude required to take your dream and push it to the brink in a win-it-or-bin-it move is something that only so many people are willing to do. I have the utmost respect for anyone willing to believe in something (or themselves) so deeply that they’re willing to be a barista (nothing against baristas – thank you for the coffee…) again if it all doesn’t work out.
I subscribe to some of the popular startup and business sites and blogs, and I read studiously about those making bigger plays than I am and those pursuing brilliant ideas I couldn’t have thought of. Startup failure is a hot ticket blog topic these days (and has been for several years), and a lot of hip and stylish gurus of startupdom wear it like a badge of honor. I’m not going to suggest that they shy away from the fact that they’ve failed, and I appreciate those that share their experiences with the hope that the rest of us can learn and avoid a similar fate.
What I haven’t seen discussed, however, is the carnage that startup or business failure leaves behind. We read about a shiny-toed, horned-rim glasses wearing founder recovering from the emotional agony and moving on, but we don’t read stories about the employees left laying in the gutter along the way, investors or family members that lose their fortunes, or the suppliers, vendors, and landlords that get left holding the bag.
Business failure is messy, whether its a startup or a 100 year old company. No one wins (unless you’re this guy, then carnage is how you get ahead), and the blood spilled is real.
I’m not hoping to scare anyone away from jumping off the cliff of starting your own business, but I want all that do it to go in with their eyes wide open. If shit goes pear-shaped you can be wiped out financially, the taxes will still need to be paid, and some of the people you might care most deeply about might lose their house, lose their early retirement, or be faced with years or bills to pay or bankruptcy.
Go forth and prosper. Take risks. Launch that next big thing. But be smart enough to either look down the road and accept the consequences should it all not work out, or decide you don’t care and be grateful whether you end up driving a Maserati or riding the bus.