Entrepreneur, startup, techie, innovate, change the world. All these buzzwords (and many, many more) are often thrown around when you enter the world of tech companies.
We’re in the midst of a second dotcom boom, and many are under the illusion that you can get into the tech scene, make boatloads of cash, then get out just as quickly as you started. This may be the case for some, and we’re not slamming the startups of Silicon Valley, but our experience has been much more of a grind than that.
For those wishing to start their own company, we want to give a more realistic look at what it’s like. Obviously, we can only give our own opinions; think of these tidbits as a mini personal experience story.
“I wish someone would have encouraged me to start a business sooner. I’m happier professionally than I’ve ever been, but I often think about the time I wasted as a young man unsure of himself. Grass is always greener of course.
Nothing has really surprised me about the merger in the large sense – I felt strongly that it was the right move, and I’m happy to have been proven right. I knew it would be more work upfront, and I knew we’d encounter challenges, but I was confident in the greater vision.” -Alonso
“Being part of a small company means you need to be flexible and willing to grow in directions you might not have anticipated. I have had to learn different programs, languages, and frameworks, depending on what the client wanted us to build for them. I even had to learn about digital marketing strategies and blogging while my coworker was out on maternity leave, which I knew nothing about and was definitely not on my radar when I started. When you work in a small team it’s important to be open to shifting to the needs of the company in order to help the team succeed, plus it’s pretty cool to constantly learn new things!” -Monica
“I wish someone had told me to be more discerning about choosing side projects once we merged. I kind of jumped in and joined all the things and then had to work really hard to manage my commitments when business got busy.” -Elaine
“I’m a fourth generation business owner, so much of owning and running a business is not a surprise to me. But one thing I wish I would have been told was to hire sooner. I feel like we waited too long to make our first hires. I’ve really enjoyed working with our team members and I feel a great sense of pride knowing that we are creating jobs in our community.
What surprised me most about the merger was how people’s perception of our company changed. I feel like people respect us more and it is easier inspire the trust needed to land bigger contracts with a larger team. I do feel like the larger team allows us to do better work, but I feel like people’s perception changed even before we demonstrated that.” -Eric
“You should never clock out at 6pm and turn your brain off. Design is a lifestyle, and you should draw inspiration from everything and everyone around you – your brain should never stop thinking about what to make next or how to implement it. Design work is always going to have a crunch time, but it keeps you sharp and well organized, it makes you never stop pushing to be more efficient and a better designer.
Also, under promise but over deliver. If someone asks you to make them logo designs, promise them 3, but deliver 6.” -Jacob
“The thing I enjoy most is the variety of knowledge coming from each employee and developer. I learn new strategies and tricks on a daily basis for every different need that I’ll come across.” -Jordan
“Beware of burnout. I consistently worked a lot of nights, weekends and generally long hours with good intention — I wanted to grow the business and do great work. But I wish someone would have told me that working long hours consistently is bad for you, bad for your business and isn’t sustainable. If you think you’re different, you’re either the next Elon Musk or you’re wrong. Take care of yourself and you can take care of your business. Sacrifice yourself and you sacrifice your business.” -Josh
“Looking back, the one thing I wish someone had told me is how much more enriching it is to work with a larger team. The larger team adds more variety and fun to my daily interactions and allows me the opportunity to improve my coding by working with more members of the team. I also wish someone would have told me how well this team would get along and how much fun we would have working together.” -Matt
“I guess I wish I would have known that there can be some very tedious aspects to the job. Repetitive uninteresting stuff. Not all the time, but there are those moments.” -Derek
“I wish someone would have told me just how frustrating the growing pains of building a new company can be. From every little decision like, how do we structure our pricing, what benefits will we offer, or even what is my actual job description, no one is around to tell you how to do any of it. On the flip side, it’s incredibly satisfying and life-giving to be building something worthwhile, meaningful, and something that’s entirely our own. I love that we can make exactly the type of company we want.” -Suzy
“Owning a company was never something I thought about doing. Both my uncle and grandfather are business owners, but I hadn’t really thought about what that meant until starting a company of my own. It’s a huge part of your life, it almost defines you in a way, and most of your thoughts, actions, or decisions will revolve around it. I wish I would have asked my relatives for advice or even just to chat about it sooner. One thing that has affected me is that I don’t really have any friends from my pre-company days that I can truly relate to now. It’s a very different world, but having met some new friends, or even just talking with people who know and understand how intense this grind is, helps a lot.
I believe our merger has gone really smooth overall. I think it was the right move that has allowed us to grow strategically and has given us the ability to attract more potential talent and clients. I hadn’t considered what the impact of adding more people would really bring, but I think we prepared well for it. I wish I would have known to establish a block of time to focus with no interruptions earlier on, as the cost of context-switching is a lot higher than I (and maybe most people) realized.” -Jay
“Before working at 11 Online, I spent my time working for tech companies focused on a single product. My routine was to work on something for a month or longer before someone outside the office saw it. At 11 Online, the pace is completely different. I’m expected to show off my work to someone outside the office at least every 2 weeks. This means I have to make something worth talking about with our clients every 2 weeks. It’s an interesting and welcome change of pace.” -John
There it is. An unglamorous look at some of our thoughts over starting a business, and more importantly, keeping it going. We’re not trying to change the world or get rich quick, and we’re definitely not unicorns…but here’s a sweet unicorn GIF anyway.