StartUp Founders: Have You Lost Your Way?

November 19, 2023 3 mins read
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The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.

Steve Jobs

Dear Reader,

When your startup feels like a chore, and your daily goal is just to make it to day’s end, it’s time to refocus. No one needs a hero. What they need is a founder with a mission. (𝕏 Tweet This)

It’s a founder scenario rarely discussed. You can’t tell your investors, employees, customers, or advisors that you have lost the energy. You can’t even confide in your significant other, given the sacrifices they’ve made for your dream. But the issue is real. When you realize that the passion that fueled marathon workdays in pursuit of the vision has given way to monotony. Your startup has morphed into something alarmingly routinea job.


StartUp Founders: Take The HotShot Challenge… – If a seasoned titan took your job, what overlooked flaws, obvious failures, and untapped strategies would they reveal?


There’s no GPS to alert you when you’ve veered off course. The journey, once an exhilarating path of innovation, exciting challenges, big dreams and making it happen, has subtly transitioned into just another day at the office.

It’s not your fault. This journey is laden with endless challenges: customer emergencies, engineering delays, recruitment issues, and cash flow crises. In the whirlwind of day-to-day operations, it’s easy to find yourself working in the business, rather than on it. You’ve lost sight of your mission.

You’re far from alone. Studies show a significant dip in motivation after the initial years. Predator private equity firms often swoop in around year four, banking on your fatigue. The joy that once propelled your startup from its inception to its present state feels buried under operational tasks and administrative burdens.

Recognizing this shift is significant. It’s commendable for its self-awareness, humility, and realism. This isn’t the time to walk away. Your acknowledgment of this is not a sign of failure, but a crucial first step towards finding the spark.

These phases are challenging, but necessary for personal and professional growth, catalysts for significant pivots or innovations. The concept of ‘founder’s blues‘ or the importance of mental health in the startup ecosystem, highlight that periods of doubt or disconnection are integral to the entrepreneurial journey. The importance of stepping back to gain perspective.

Markets evolve, customer needs change, and your initial mission may now benefit from a fresh perspective. Maybe it’s not you, it’s the market.

Dive back into what excited you. Revisiting and iterating your mission could be key to a renewed sense of purpose.

Reigniting the Spark:

  1. Take a Vacation: Sometimes, stepping back provides the space and perspective needed to realign with your core mission.
  2. Revisit Your ‘Why’: Reconnect with the reasons you started this journey. What problem did you feel so strongly you could solve? What impact did you dream of making?
  3. Delegate the Weeds: As your startup grows, focus your energy on where you add the most value (impact).
  4. Engage with Your Team and Customers: Get back in traffic, hear stories and feedback from those in your orbit.

This isn’t a one-time effort. It’s a continuous journey of self-reflection, strategic adjustments, and renewed commitments. It’s about embracing the entire spectrum of the founder’s experience – the highs, the lows, and the transformative periods in between.

Your startup’s success story isn’t defined by never losing sight of your path but by the courage to find it again.

Go find your mission…

— James

(LinkedIn | Twitter | Tiktok)

StartUp Founders: Take The HotShot Challenge… Next: StartUp Founders: Always Sweat The Small Stuff
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