I have been pouring a great deal of energy and emotion this past year into establishing myself as a freelance consultant. Paul Graham’s blog posting on What Startups Are Really Like was very reassuring as it demonstrated that I am not alone and that the challenges I am facing are faced by every entrepreneur.
Graham says that startups take over your life and are an emotional rollercoaster. He also emphasizes that you have to be persistent and think long term. You have to view your startup idea as a hypothesis and be flexible as it may need to be changed. Luck is a big factor: success depends on skill, determination – and luck.
Graham says that people are often surprised by their freelance/startup experience because it’s not like a job. “Everyone's model of work is a job. It's completely pervasive. Even if you've never had a job, your parents probably did, along with practically every other adult you've met. Unconsciously, everyone expects a startup to be like a job, and that explains most of the surprises. It explains why people are surprised how carefully you have to choose cofounders and how hard you have to work to maintain your relationship. You don't have to do that with coworkers. It explains why the ups and downs are surprisingly extreme. In a job there is much more damping. But it also explains why the good times are surprisingly good: most people can't imagine such freedom.”