When we started our startup 4 years ago in the ed-tech space, I was very passionate about it. We built a great product which people are using and we scaled up at a very fast pace. We also have the full support of our investors. However, due to ongoing conflicts with my co-founder I don't feel passionate about my startup anymore. I feel like I work for my co-founder and have no sense of ownership now. We have tried to sort out our conflicts many times but it's getting worse everyday. Now I'm thinking quitting would be a better option for me, since at least it will give me peace of mind. However I am completely clueless about what my next career move should be and how should I prepare for it. I have total of 10+ year of experience in web/mobile enabled technologies. One thing I am sure of is that I don't want to create a startup as of now. What would be some good career routes for me to move on to?
I have lost passion at least 100 times. It happens and the situation you find yourself in can make it challenging for you to care. I totally get that.
If you are planning on getting out, I would try to position yourself so you have some time to regroup. If you are in a position to do so, I would spend the next year reading, traveling, meeting with people, having discussions, sleeping, and thinking.
My best ideas have came from times where I walked away from other things that were not working for me any longer. It takes time for our minds to detach from the things that are dragging us down. If you are like me, at that time I was working too much and not giving myself time for growth. Stopping everything and focusing on myself and my family renewed me and allowed me to once again access parts of my mind that were bogged down with everything I had lost interest in.
Hope that helps.
That's a sad experience but not rare unfortunately.
What you are going through is very common, two people get their similar skillsets together and develop a product with no clue for preparations into what the future will look like for the company and for them individually and as a team. I would not necessarily quit but revisit the contracts and agreements that you must have had in place and maybe try creating new positions for the both of you where is the a middle ground, add a third person to be liason and conflict resolution and in charge of what you two clash the most. Focus on what strategies your company can rely on, and what each of you are good at and happy to do. Passion can come and go depending on your mood and situation so don't make judgement or permanent calls based on what you think you are passionate about that moment. You might think is not a moment thing, but you make decisions based on how you feel at any give moment. Whatever you do, working with another company you will be working for another person.
Is it lack of respect that you have? Maybe you don't enjoy working with the person so consider who is better at the current roles and determine what leadership changes are needed, maybe both need to step down. Take your board into consideration and offer them a job or hire from outside. Become an evangelist for your product.
If you haven't already, you might want to look into external help for your strained relationship with your CEO (yes, just like marriage counselling). Relationship experts can really improve the quality of the communication and help resolve existing issues.
I don't know what your personal goals are, but you could probably try becoming CTO at another company between 2x and 5x the size of your startup.
Take some time and do business consulting work for multiple clients. It will allow for R&R and give you a view into a lot of other career choices.
I am not trying to sell you on calling me. Really, I am pretty busy with my businesses and consulting. However, I need more info before I could have a greater impact in helping you.
Ask, Ask, Ask, then Ask again.
Here is $10,000 worth of information for free and in a nutshell.
Concentrate on the 3 M's. There are actually 7, but 3 will do for now. These are Market, Message, and Media. They come in that order.
Who is your target market (customer, clients, buyers, users, etc.)?
Tailor your laser focused message for this target market.
What is the best media mix to get your message to that market?
Here's what you do...first, make it an offer that is so incredible that they cannot resist. Secondly, do all the work for them. Make it so easy to make the purchase now that they can do it virtually without effort. Thirdly, give them an incentive to act right now. Fourthly, offer an almost unbelievable guarantee. Fifth, offer a bonus for acting now. There are many other incredible steps, but these steps should help the novice to the professional sell anything.
Whether you are selling B2B or B2C, you have to focus on selling to only one person. You can actually sell to one person at a time while selling to millions at a time. They are one and the same. Don't get off track, what we call digital marketing selling is just selling in print. And that has not changed since Cluade Hopkins wrote "Scientific Advertising." Really long before he wrote the book.
The secret to success: I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with some of the biggest names in business, celebrities, actors, entrepreneurs, business people, and companies from startup to billion dollar operations. The number one reason for their success is doing what they know and love while doing it in new, creative, and innovative ways.
Ask, Ask, Ask. Have thick skin and learn from each "mistake." In a short while, the market will tell you what you need to do and who and what you need to ask. But get started now even if that just means asking a contact on LinkedIn.
While you are thinking, think big and think of something at least 1% better, newer, or different. And being cheaper is not a winning strategy.
Make decisions quickly and change decisions slowly..unless you are actually going off a cliff.
Remember these two 11 letter words...persistence and consistency. They are two of the most important tools ever invented.
Treat everybody you talk to and everybody you meet (including yourself) like each is your number one million dollar customer.
Bootstrap when possible and reasonable. Read "How To Get Rich" by Felix Dennis. Or better yet just remember the camel's nose in the tent story.
However, sometimes you just need to make a deal.
Listen, in any business you have to take some chances and some risks. Make sure you don't need a license and go for it. Remember, timid business people have skinny kids. Paraphrased from Zig Ziglar.
Best of luck,
Take massive action and never give up.
Michael Irvin, MBA, RN