Time to Let Go of Startup Fairy Tales

glass slippers by the bucketful for sale

If you know me, you know I don’t promote stories of “startup heroism” — those thrilling tales of late nights, fueled by coffee, working everywhere and everytime, for 3-5 years until the acquisition ship comes in and you retire with your riches to “Mojito Island”.

It’s a sexy and alluring narrative because it says: All you have to do is suffer for 3-5 years, then you’ll never have to work again.

Which, if it was true, might be worth it.

But it’s not true.

And it’s not even genuinely a tale about heroes, no matter how it is cast.

The Startup Hero narrative doesn’t actually star you or me. Even though you’re doing all the work.

In the Startup Hero story, you are just a supporting character. A plot device. You’re Cinderella — down in the dirt, scrub scrub scrubbing, callouses on your knees, covered in ash. You’re “working hard” but your main role is waiting.

No matter how much “action” you take, it does not transform you. You cannot get to the end on your own.

The real star is the magical business prince who discovers you down in your doldrums, and declares:

“You. You are chosen.”

And transforms you with a kiss (of acquisition).

No Prince, no Happily Ever After. No acquisition, no Mojito Island.

Just 3 to 5 years burning yourself to a dark, ashy crisp for nothing.

The sick thing is, the arrival of The Prince is a result entirely outside your power. It’s not a reward for hard work, it’s a stroke of luck. You cannot force a Prince to appear. You cannot force a Prince to choose you.

You must wait — and hope — to be chosen.

I hate fairy tales.

Maybe there’s no romance in my heart, but you know what? I like money. I like control. I like to be the steward of my own future. I like to work on things knowing what I am going to get for it.

And dammit, if I am gonna suffer, then I gotta get paid.

I am my own damn Prince.

And in 2015, my business finally, FINALLY hit the magical 7-figure mark. No – not a million dollars in lifetime revenue… we hit that a long time ago.

In 2015, my business grossed $1.05 million dollars in one calendar year.

That is a first.

Yes, it took a lot of work.

Yes, I suffered. But I suffered for me. I didn’t suffer in order to ennoble myself, to catch the attention of True Love’s Kiss. I didn’t just “work hard”; I didn’t just scrub floors and wait to be chosen.

I worked hard on specific strategies I designed to deliver specific results.

Suffering for a period of time for a nearly-certain return isn’t waiting, or hoping, or thrilling. It’s investing.

And investing works.

No fairy godmothers required.

Equip yourself to invest in yourself

If you’re tired of sweating and waiting to be chosen, choose to take the wheel. Make 2016 the year you get paid.

Make 2016 the year you rescue yourself.

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