October 6th, 2021 | By: Wil Schroter
Sometimes our startup IS our social life.
When we put it like that, it almost sounds kind of sad. We're told by others (heretics!) that we need a life inside and outside of our startup. We're supposed to have families, loved ones, and friends who we create amazing experiences with that have absolutely nothing to do with work. And of course, that's important.
But our startups aren't just about work — they are also a very important part of our social fabric whether we want to believe they are or not. In fact, if we were to sell our startup and have nothing to do with it, many of us would miss the very real social connection we took for granted.
As Founders, we get to enjoy a very special kind of opportunity to build and expand our social lives that many others never get, and in fact, we often take for granted.
We're in the trenches with our peers navigating some of the most trying moments of our lives all day, every day. That shared experience creates a powerful bond of trust, vulnerability, and triumph that we frankly rarely get with anyone else we meet. It's not incidental.
At the time it's easy to overlook because we're all worn out. But over time when we look back, we find ourselves developing incredibly deep, personal relationships with people that we would have never had the time and focus to develop outside of our startup.
One could argue that we have more reps with the people we work with than nearly anyone else we spend time with, just based on the number of hours we spend alone. Are there any other relationships where we spend 80+ hours per week intensely focused on the outcome of that relationship? Probably not!
One of the things that I didn't recognize early in my career was how many new and interesting people being the Founder of a company would introduce me to. As the Founder, we create a tractor beam of so many people, from investors to interviewees, vendors to the media, not to mention a hell of a lot of other Founders.
There's rarely a job or role in life that "forces" us to meet so many interesting people in so many different walks of life. On top of that, we get to be a powerful force in so many lives that creates a center of gravity for relationships to build and mature together.
When I look back on decades of being a Founder, I have over 10,000 contact names in my phone, most of which came from my life as a Founder and so many incredible friendships that were built. I can't imagine a more powerful catalyst for expanding my social graph of real people.
Our position as Founders also affords us a voice that people may listen to. In fact, if you're reading this, you know exactly what I mean. Whether it's writing a newsletter, hosting a podcast, or droning on endlessly on social media, our startups give us a recognizable and authoritative voice that not only builds audiences but can also build relationships if we let them.
Once again our startups act as a powerful amplifying force that puts us in front of exponentially more new faces than being "Employee 19,527 with a Name Badge" did at our last job.
While we can easily cite all the reasons our startups hamper our social lives, from missing kids' soccer games to passing on yet another night out with our friends, we have to recognize and take advantage of all of the ways it actually makes us way more social than we'd ever be without them.
Optimizing for Happiness (podcast). What if our work hours gave us more time with our kids or who we worked with were only the people we enjoyed the most? The key is thinking about our startup differently by using "personal happiness" as a core tenet of how the company works.e
How to be a Happy Entrepreneur. Everything about entrepreneurship works against our basic human desires for comfort, stability and predictability. So, how do we keep ourselves happy and sane while we’re on the path to creating a better life for ourselves, and a better world for others?
Can Doing Non-Startup Stuff Help My Startup? Sometimes the best way to grow our startups is to spend some time doing stuff that has nothing to do with our startups!
Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes Bizplan, Clarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.