A few weeks ago I was reminiscing with some early employees at my startup about how much we've grown and how far we've come in the last year and a half.
In that time frame 15 employees working out of my basement has grown to more than 350. The three-room, low-ceiling basement has become a 27,000-square-foot Seattle office that gets fuller everyday as we expand and grow our business.
Looking at photos from the early days I realized just how important and almost sacred it is to have times like this when building a startup.
Every young company has it's own "basement," whether it's actually a garage, spare room, or coffee shop.
Below are three things to remember when building your young company.
1. Despite the change, you never stop making memories.
There is no stack rank of memories and milestones for a company because they all carry their own significance. Certain moments, despite their relative magnitude, all hold a special place. Realize that throughout the course of your startup's existence, there inevitably will be ups and downs and as they pass, they become the lessons that you remember and build from for the future.
2. Less than ideal circumstances form strong bonds.
The greatest sports teams in history are made by teammates overcoming adversity and trusting in each other. Starting up has its own special challenges. For some, it's living off a shoestring budget to stretch the runway as far as possible. For us, it was making do with very little space, but still charging forward. Temporary difficulties and battling together when things aren't perfect pull the team together and give everyone a shared experience and memory to hold on to. There's not near the satisfaction in something that is won with ease.
3. Appreciate the simplicity (while you have it).
I fondly remember the days when all it took was a simple cross-room conversation to make decisions and update everyone on important matters. Today, though I'm extremely proud of the ability and size of our team, I now reluctantly have to use a microphone during our weekly all-hands meeting. When companies grow, so do the complexities of everyday operations. It's important to always recognize and appreciate the times when things are simple, where the big wins were getting your first sale or launching your first landing page. The lines of communication inevitably get longer and you have to work extra hard as a leader to keep bureaucracy at bay. However, if you've built a strong culture instilled during those early years, you can pull it off.