It's not unlike becoming a parent, from the blissful ignorance of what is about to happen to the sheer terror of realizing there's no turning back.
I’m a new dad (for the second time). In between the feedings, the changings, and the naps over the last few weeks, it dawned on me that becoming a parent is a lot like birthing a start-up.
Let’s dissect for a moment:
Stage 1: Conception.
You will never have so much fun again until you see your “baby” actually born. This is when you have all kinds of energy and vision about what the end result will be--yet absolutely no clarity as to what you’ll endure together to get there. You should relish this period as a Zen-like bubble. Float around with your happy thoughts before the actual work sets in.
Stage 2: Development.
The harsh reality check. Now you’re all experiencing the pain of growing your idea from a little tiny seed (“Wouldn’t this be awesome?”) to actual, 1.0 reality (“Why did we do this again?”). You hope your approach is suitably creative, colorful, and positive to influence the outcome, similar to what’s required to raise a Baby Mozart. You’re willing to get your engineers mountains of Doritos and rivers of caffeine, when the instant cravings strike. In general, it’s sleepless nights, perhaps some queasiness as you contemplate investor questions, weight gain from stress eating, even mood swings that fluctuate from utterly downcast to wildly euphoric.
Stage 3: Testing.
The finish line is so close you can feel it. The technology is nearly ready for a public audience. Now you have to run through final testing--like packing your hospital go-to bag or driving the route two or three times--which helps you feel ready for the inevitable last-minute questions and bugs. But you are ready. Or you’ve reached the point where you know everyone is thinking (because you are too), “I can’t take any more! Get out. Getoutgetoutgetout!”
Stage 4: Birth.
It’s that time. Pushing your tech start-up live is exciting, scary, sweat-inducing, pain-filled, and joyful at once. You can’t believe it’s really happening! There are fits and starts. But once the train starts moving out of the station, there’s no going back. There are only fervent prayers for success.
Stage 5: Euphoria and sleeplessness.
Your black-and-white world has exploded into vibrant, unmistakable Technicolor. Customers are active on your website and you’re discovering so much you didn’t know about your own technology, based on their reactions and interactions. There are many “learning moments”--some of them humbling (actually, most of them).
Stage 6: Contemplation.
Some time has passed. As your product has grown and changed, guided by your collective insights and wisdom, you begin to forget the pain of its infancy. It’s all obscured by the rosy, gentle glow of memory. That’s good--because your team is already starting to think about the 2.0 version.
MICHAEL FERTIK founded Reputation.com with the belief that businesses and individuals have the right to control and protect their online reputation and privacy. He is credited with pioneering the field of online reputation management. @michaelfertik