“The very first company I started failed with a great bang. The second one failed a little bit less, but still failed. The third one, you know, proper failed, but it was kind of okay. I recovered quickly. Number four almost didn’t fail. It still didn’t really feel great, but it did okay. Number five was PayPal.” - Max Levchin’s, Co-Founder of PayPal
Movies, books and blogs tend to cover startup culture after the company gets the billion dollar valuation but very little is revealed or even said about the secret behind the success. The thing is, the secret is very simple and not very glamorous. Almost all successful companies and startups have gotten to where they are due to exhaustingly long hours and by refusing to give up. Let me repeat, if you want your business to work out, stop whining about your problems and simply push through. There’s nothing very elegant about this but look at PayPal. Max Levchin, the former CTO of Paypal, started and failed four different companies before he finally established one of the most successful online payment clients.
So the next time your starting up cash runs dangerously low, your right-hand (and possibly only) employee threatens to quit, customers aren’t buying your stuff; do what you can to persevere. Seriously, don’t give up. If you fail, go at it again. The founder of Tweezerman, Dal LaMagna started and tanked fifteen companies before he tasted success. He had spent more than two decades juggling debt and working for himself day in and day out before he was able to build a multi-million dollar business. At his lowest point, he moved in with his mother and would borrow his sister’s bike to go out looking for a job. He stuck it out and shook off the despair of having failed at his previous companies and began Tweezerman.
It’s remarkable to think that most of all, business success is being able to stick around long enough to get people to buy (maybe not a lot in the beginning), make changes, make more changes and attract investors. There isn’t an actual starting line, just existing in the startup world is considered a win in and of itself. So what can you take from this entrepreneurial lesson? Building a business is not for the faint of heart and it certainly is not for the impatient and the easily frustrated.