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March 21, 2012 - Comments Off on The Roller Coaster Threshold

The Roller Coaster Threshold

So right now, if you're wondering what to do next - take action. Work out your options quickly, choose the one that feels right (physically and mentally) and just get on with it. Even if you should fail you have one less piece of confusion in your life and a win on the board for starting something.

This post was inspired by my Facebook update (thanks Will for the extra nudge).

Every day I get to read about, talk to and watch entrepreneurs go through the motions of building their various startups. Over the couple of years I have been working in this field I have been able to learn just as much about success as failure. In most parts, failing is an extremely important result in our daily activities but is often avoided like the plague, so much so that people stop taking action towards certain tasks. The problem this creates is a never-ending loop of self-sacrifice, low results and lack of excitement.

Failure Is Very Important

With what I have witnessed, I believe that failure has been a very important outcome of the various startups I've seen operating. This is as simple as failing to deliver on time, failing to communicate, failing to focus on the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) or even failing to actually build something of value to users. Everyone seems to handle these various failures in different ways but they all end up in the same place by learning from what went wrong.

The Roller Coaster Threshold

What's a harder lesson than failure? The roller coaster ride from failure to success, back to failure and so on. The constant up and downs of working on a startup are extremely challenging and can happen just as fast as the actual ride. In many cases, the fear of the 'Roller Coaster Threshold' is actually more debilitating than failure.

When I first started Barkles, it was built on top of WordPress. At the time, Rhys and I were running the show (I was designing the front end interface and he was working on the back-end development) and we had just heard about our acceptance into the Angel Cube shortlist (more details here), basically proving that the initial concept and networking we had done was paying off.

That moment of extreme excitement was shattered when Rhys made a decision to leave the company on that day after hearing the news. While I respected his decision and we parted amicably, it still hit me like a truck. I had gone from extreme excitement to complete freak out in a matter of minutes. However, I knew that this was a great thing. Barkles had succeeded (validation, albeit early stages) and failed (The only developer quits) in such a rapid time-frame right before the pitch.

Later that day I called Jay (who was only a contracted developer at the time) and told him the news. I openly asked if he wanted to keep going with Barkles and he quickly jumped at the chance to be further involved. Jay stepped forward and said that he would be able to take our demo app and turn it into a Rails app. This took me from a low point of failure back up to a level ground knowing that we could still move forward as initially planned.

That extreme roller coaster happened in the space of a few hours. Entrepreneurs will experience this at least once in a day in some form and more often than not, the success will match the failures.

This leads me back to the original message that started this post: Take action. Don't avoid making a decision because you fear an outcome. If you have a variety of options in front of you, take the risk and actually choose one path. Make the call from your gut and be prepared for high points of success and low points of failure.

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