Photo: Flickr/Jeffrey Montes
“What does it feel like to be the CEO of a startup?” Someone asked on Quora.Founders filed in with honest descriptions: Sleepless nights, tons of stress and constant pangs of guilt.
“Very tough to sleep most nights of the week,” he starts. “Weekends don’t mean anything to you anymore. Closing a round of financing is not a relief. It means more people are depending on you to turn their investment into 20 times what they gave you.”
DeJoe describes it as very hard work to “turn off.” Anytime he does something he enjoys outside of the startup he feels guilty. Even vacations aren’t enjoyable because the startup could be floundering while it’s being neglected.
“You start to respect the Duck,” writes DeJoe. “Paddle like hell under the water and be smooth and calm on top where everyone can see you.”
It’s not all bad though. In fact, DeJoe says running a startup is exciting. “Even when it’s bad, it’s exciting,” he writes.
“You start to see that you’re a leader and you have to lead or you can’t be involved with it at all. You turn down acquisition offers because you need to run the show and you feel like your team is the best in the World and you can do anything with hard work. Quitting is not an option.”
And if after all that, if you’re successful, you start to feel a wave of unexpected emotions.
“You realise that it’s much more fun when you didn’t have money and that money might be the worst thing you could have as a personal goal,” writes DeJoe. ‘If you’re lucky enough to genuinely feel this way, it is a surreal feeling that is the closest thing to peace because you realise it’s the challenges and the work that you love.
“You feel like a parent to your customers in that they will never realise how much you love them and it is they who validate you are not crazy. You want to hug every one of them. They mean the World to you.”
Another founder and investor, Jason Calacanis, added his two cents on Twitter.
He likens the feeling of running a startup to narrowly avoiding a head on collision everyday: