I think the best thing you can do is to celebrate small milestones at your startup more frequently. They help you ride out the sine-curve of emotions (or the roller coaster journey if you prefer that analogy).
The interesting thing I learned last week from a founder of a small startup last week, was they have weekly celebrations. The reason was it forces the team to think about what they should be doing to celebrate in a few days. Every Thursday, their team would get catered lunch, and a cake, providing the opportunity for one person to be the MVP for that week.
When he was presenting this to us at the advisory board meeting last week, I thought it was pretty cool. I loved the culture they are building of celebrating smalls wins.
Another member of the board, who was an angel investor, nodded his head, and moved on to the next item, which was a milestone he really cared about – $10K in monthly revenue, which the entrepreneur had committed to last quarter. The progress was slower, and so it was likely they were not going to hit that number in the quarter, but he was confident they would in 2 months.
I gathered later (post the board meeting) that they were unable to hire a “Growth Hacker” to their team, since they had interviewed 3 great candidates, but they all picked up offers at other companies.
I asked him what the issue with hiring was. He mentioned that the companies they lost the candidates to were smaller, earlier and were wooing the candidate with a different culture (free food, benefits, pay were all table stakes) of work from anywhere and 2 weeks paid work from a place of their choice (think Hawaii or Bulgaria or anyplace you choose).
That’s when it struck me. You will always have investors who have been through the startup experience and those that have not. Those that have not, will not understand the nuances of what it takes to actually be an entrepreneur, so they are less appreciative of the “many little things” that go towards making the big things happen.
What this entrepreneur was planning to do was to have candidates attend their final interview (if they went to that stage) on a Thursday, so they got to see the culture in action.
In this particular case, the outcome that the investor cared about was revenue. To achieve that though, the #1 thing they needed to do was to hire a good marketing person (Growth hacker) and the #2 and #3 things were to build a good pipeline of opportunities for their newly hired sales people and tweak the on-boarding experience for new customers.
Unfortunately the entrepreneur had failed to explicitly communicate this to the other investors, who were not entrepreneurs before.
If you do not have investors and advisors who are entrepreneurs, make sure that you are clear about the “little” things that need to happen to make the outcomes happen.