When working on a startup, become a startup!


What should be your mindset when working on a startup?

Mindset is so important. To a large extent, it is influenced by what you define as ‘success’ – both for you and your startup. The startup ecosystem is such a place that even if you fail, you are not a ‘failure’ because anyone who has tried knows how much of a personal growth experience it can be. Take for example this article on SchoolGenie, where we can see so many learnings when someone shares a failed startup experience.

But there is a flip side: startups are, after all, businesses. They are there to create a product that people need and, also, fulfill their responsibilities towards their employees and investors. So technically, the destination also matters because that’s the end goal.

If you are a young founder of a startup, then typically you face a choice between two different mindsets:

  1. The journey of a startup is so special that no matter the end result, you will be a winner.
  2. The end is everything. Better be ready to give it your all. If you don’t reach the end, then it is a failure.

My personal take on this is somewhat a middle path between these two viewpoints and offers another optional mindset for you to consider: your startup is a reflection of you. I truly believe this to be true, as it is the founder that forms the core vision and culture of the company, and takes many day-to-day decisions that affect its end-results.

The image below depicts the lean startup loop for your product or business.

Iterations of your product or service follow this loop, but your input and influence is always there – in the form of ‘ideas’. If two companies are working on the same idea, the two things that make them different are its founders and the people behind it.

Even if you fail in your current product, when you try to create a new one, you will still exercise influence in the form of ideas. And as we mature, our ideas also mature. We become less impulsive, less ego driven and more ‘in sync’ with the team.

So when you are working in a startup, you are actually working on two startups – one is the product and the second is: you. The second one only improves when you try to take the first one to its destination. But if it doesn’t get there, your personal growth startup never ends. You keep on iterating. Next time you will be better, so what you create will be better.

In a sense, the startup that you are working on right now is the product of your personal growth startup. So both of them impact each other a great deal.

Here are some areas that your personal growth startup needs to actively iterate on, so as to grow:

  1. Co-founder relationships – Trust me that if you are in a fight, you are also wrong. No excuses here. Trying reading some articles or books on improving co-founder relationships.
  2. Taking your ego out of discussions – Ever wonder why your ideas are not always so pleasing and why discussions are always being converted into arguments? Time to take a look at your ego.
  3. Caring about people around you – Your employees can actually feel how much you care about them. And that will be a huge impact on their level of involvement and the connection they feel to your product.
  4. Skill-sets – Improving your technical skill-sets is always a plus.
  5. Spiritual direction in life – The kind of direction you have in your life will impact the direction of your product and, also, the kind of people you attract. So try to get in sync with your spiritual north star. It will impact the quality of your work.
  6. Better relationships – The relationships you find in everyday life and in your work have a big impact on your future success. Try to get better at your relationships.

See how you are improving in the above areas and others. Keep growing.

Here is the lean startup loop for your personal growth startup.           

  • Ideas – See what qualities you are lacking and get ideas about the kind of changes that you can make in yourself.
  • Implementation – Make a plan to implement these ideas of what you want to change in yourself and implement it.
  • Measure – See what works for you or not, and then take things back to the drawing board.

A destination is just the place where a journey ends. If the journey is ongoing, there is still a destination out there. Maybe you couldn’t reach one pit stop, but who cares? You can make it to the next one. The destination is out there and it is awesome. But if you are in it just for the destination, you won’t be able to handle the daily slog. And if that is the case, then this journey might not be for you. On the other hand, if you are in love with the journey, sooner than later you are going to end up somewhere.

Let me know what you think about this article in the comments below. I would love to you’re your thoughts about my mindset. I am also iterating on it!

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)


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