Last Tuesday, while I was sending emails, researching investors, tweaking our business plan, reviewing our financials, testing our mobile app and preparing to meet with our biz dev team to talk about sales strategies, I was reminded of a question a friend asked me recently. “Matthew, why are you always working?”
She’s right, I am pretty much always working. Being an entrepreneur certainly takes a lot of hustle, determination and long hours on a continual basis. But why? How come entrepreneurs and startup all-stars have to work so much and so often?
One of the biggest differences between startups and established companies is knowing what works and what doesn’t. Big corporations became big for a reason; they figured it out. More than likely they had their ups and downs in the beginning, but over time they dialed in their business model and settled on a plan of action. This in turn allowed them to streamline their efforts and maximize the gain from those efforts. It’s like a well-oiled machine (a la Google, Apple, Zappos, etc).
Startups, on the other hand, are continually adjusting their strategies, modifying their business plan, and generally searching for the magical combination that will bring them success. This takes a lot of time and effort, and can often result in little gain. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked back at something I spent 3 hours doing for my business, only to realize a week later it was all for not.
So why do entrepreneurs do it? Why do they expend so much effort for what amounts to such little gain? Because of the unknown. Unlike big businesses who have determined how to best spend their time for the best ROI, entrepreneurs are continually on the hunt for that winning combination. Try this, try that. Did it work? Great! Do it some more. It didn’t work? Ditch it and try something else. Entrepreneurs can’t afford to worry that the entire weeks’ worth of work resulted in very little. We just keep plugging away, knowing that eventually we’ll streamline the efforts spent on our own businesses.
Until then, it’s 120% effort for 40% gain.