Startups are a Journey of Self-Discovery

When I got into this, I thought that a startup was a road. You started
at one end, and marched along to the end. It could be a long and
winding road, but you essentially moved in a straight line. It starts
with a concept, and progresses to a business plan, and then to a demo.
You build a product, get customers, funding, etc...

What I have realized along the way is that this concept isn't
necessarily true. Maybe your business "catches at some point," and
then you race on towards the goal. I suppose that, if you are either
exceptionally lucky or exceptionally skilled, that you might always be
making progress.

However, the startup life is more often a journey. Imagine wandering
through the jungle, trying not to get eaten by a lion or tiger. Maybe
you have a jeep, or possibly you are on foot. I feel like we are on
foot. You wander for a while, and maybe you eventually come to a road.
Sometimes you hit a dead end, and have to backtrack a bit to find the
route. At other times, you become so entangled in the thicket that you
have to hack your way out (is there even a thicket in the jungle?)

So, enough of the metaphors - let's try to be concrete. One of my most
interesting/important learnings is that there is no one telling you
what to do. You need to figure it out, based on imperfect information.
There isn't even a single correct move to make at each point in time.
Every day, you need to figure out whether what you are doing is
correct, or whether it makes sense to bag it and change directions.

Is your idea stalled, or is it dead in the water? Should you give up
on selling to restaurants and move over to Facebook Applications (to
take an example from my current situation)? Is it better to focus on
one project, or to make smaller bets on a bunch? Is direct sales or
internet marketing the best way to sell a product? Should you keep
going in the same direction for a few days longer, or should you cut
your losses and bail?

The life of the startup founder is one of many hazy possibilities. I
think that my next post is going to be about advisors...