My taxi driver gazed out at the gridlocked traffic and then quickly turned back to look at me in sheer disbelief. I'd just told him that I quit Google to fix the flower industry. He clearly thought I was insane. How could someone leave the 'best company in the world' for flowers? This was the third such reaction I'd had like that in the last week.
Google just wasn't the one. It was kind of like my college girlfriend. She was beautiful, ambitious, and intelligent, but something deep inside me always knew she was not the one for me. Google was similar; it is a wonderful place to work with amazing people, but in my heart I knew it wasn't for me.
I just turned 27, so maybe we could call it a quarter-life crisis. Simply put, it felt like a calling and I knew with absolute certainty that this was something I had to do. There would never be a more opportune moment than this. So I took the leap.
This is what I've learned in my first 6 months.
1. You're either all in, or you're not going to make it:
I used to go to work at 9 and leave by 6, every day, Monday to Friday. If I ran out of time, or if I didn't feel like it, it wasn't a problem. I could always just do it tomorrow.
Now it's different. My life no longer belongs to me. I have people who depend on me, partners who need me, and customers I will do anything for. I am literally running as fast as I can.
I am all in. This is hard, and I know it won't get easier, but o-my-god does it feel amazing. Every day I am breathing life into something. Every day I learn more, maybe fail a little, but give more of myself than I could have ever thought possible.
This is pure passion and there is no faking it.
2. Does your idea scale?:
So many of us hope to come across that one perfect storm of an idea, but one flash of inspiration does not unlock the door to wealth, fame and prestige, or even the tiniest bit of success.
Ideas are the building blocks, and of course they have great merit, but it is what you do with this idea after that actually matters. On day two, your great idea essentially ceases to matter. The only things that matter from this point forward are hustle and execution.
In the beginning there were dozens or even hundreds of messenger or photo filter apps. What se-parated WhatsApp and Instagram from the hundreds of others that joined the startup graveyard is not that eureka moment, it is the hard-work, dedication and belief that ensued.
3. Prepare for an emotional rollercoaster:
Everything takes more time than you think it does. Sitting in traffic, hiring, fundraising, customer service, development, even the gym. It all takes time and you will very quickly start to think that there just aren't enough hours in the day for you to get everything done. Unfortunately there is no fast lane, and there are no real short cuts.
Whenever my wonderful CTO tells me it will take 1 day, I know its code, no pun intended, for 1 week. Whenever a partner says I'll pay you on Tuesday, I'll be crossing my fingers and hoping for 30 days. If you're in it, you're in it for the long haul.
And just because you are up and on your feet doesn't mean that easy street is coming round the next corner. Your success, if it ever arrives, will come only after you have put in hours and hours of the precious time that there suddenly seems to be so little of. So strap yourself in and get comfort-able, it's going to be a long ride.
4. Network like crazy:
Every single great company started out the same. There was no product, no sales, and no users. It was just a bunch of folks with a dream. My company started out the exact same way. Getting people to care about your dream is not easy.
It's a battle to get legitimacy. No one wants to fund or work for some guy sitting in a room that no-body has ever heard of. On the other hand, a lot of people do want to fund and work for a company that they keep reading about, or a company that their friends recommend.
How you get from point A to point B is entirely up to you. Personally I suggest you come up with as many articles as you can about your company and what it does, speak at any and all conferences, and shamelessly self promote on all of your social media.
The rock stars who can help take your business forward don't want to join just any old company; they want to join a rocket ship. Start building your rocket ship today.
5. Be patient:
Lots of people will try to convince you to buy things that you just don't need. Investors will con-stantly tell you how they are the key to your future; how their advice is different, how they are the ones worth a better deal. Spoiler alert - they are not.
I have lost count of the number of people who have shaken my hand and said we have a deal, only to later spend a few more hours with them on the phone and never close. I have attended so many pointless meetings that if it wasn't for the coffee, I would've fallen asleep. You must learn to instinc-tively recognize and then free yourself from these time wasting people and situations.
It has been an amazing ride. The highs are so high, and the lows are so low. The funny thing is, I would do it again in a heartbeat. We are slowly, but methodically moving in the right direction.
I can't wait to see what my next 6 months will bring.
Steve Feiner is the Co-Founder and CEO of A Better Florist, Lighting Fast Flower Delivery in Southeast Asia.