I am completely sucked in to the tumblr blog My Startup has 30 Days to Live. It’s written anonymously by an entrepreneur who ran a successful business, took VC money, and now the business is on the brink of failure. Or as he says it:
Through a series of unfortunate events, I took a bootstrapped (and profitable) startup onto the VC rocket ship. Now it’s crashing into the ground. Hard.
If you want an unfiltered look at what it’s like to have your business slowly fall apart in front of your eyes, this is it. There are less than ten posts as of this writing so you can rip through them in less than a half hour.
The blog is so fascinating on so many levels. First and foremost, profitable companies can be run into the ground by taking outside funding. It can accelerate growth but all too often it can lead to the company crashing and burning. This is probably more the rule than the exception. Secondly, even if you are successful you now have a board to report to that has completely different ideals and objectives than you do. That can create a new kind of stress. As can spending months raising money in the first place. And maybe most importantly, growing your company huge doesn’t necessarily equate to a happier life. As he said in the last post:
When we started this business and noted our conditions for success, we listed the obvious ones, “Social Change”, “An exit that gives us ‘Fuck you’ money”, “Becoming an integral part of the lives of millions”
Give me a fucking break.
These goals are awesome, I still want to live my life in a way that improves society in some way. I want to make my contribution and have it matter. Looking back at that list, I can’t believe I ever considered those things to be indicators of success.
Success isn’t about fame, wealth or disruption. When I look to the most successful man I have met, he’s barely earned a million dollars over the course of his long life. He’s always punched a clock of some sort. He lived responsibly and frugally, always saving for a rainy day that never seemed to come.
His secret? He loved. He loved his wife. He loved his parents. He loved his children. His grandchildren. He believed in them when others wouldn’t. He loved his kids that went astray. He’s my grandfather. Today, everyone he has touched is passing their love on to others in their lives.
That’s what success is. Want to really disrupt the world? Do your part to make its inhabitants better people.