"You are always auditioning".....
Updated: Sep 9, 2019
So you've started your own company and it's beginning to feel like you're drinking from a hose. It's a little overwhelming and definitely all consuming... you might even be wondering if this is what you signed up for.
Rest assured, you are not alone in tech to be facing this dilemma. Truth be told, this is not a tech specific issue. Success has a price and your time is one of the currencies it accepts. To illustrate my point, let me turn to a totally different industry: movies and the great British actor Michael Caine.
Caine has written a screamer of a book called Blowing the Bloody doors off in which he offers his views on what drives success. It's a lessons in life book based on Caine's successful acting career and not surprisingly, most of what he shares is very transposable to everyday business and tech life.
I was particularly drawn to his second chapter where he talks about the process of auditioning. Caine puts it brilliantly "If you only think you're auditioning when you're in the room with the casting director, your missing half of it. You're auditioning when you're checking in with the receptionist, when you're sitting in the waiting area , when you're grabbing a cup of coffee". Nowhere is this more true than when you are the founder of a tech start-up. Consider the following observations gleaned from our most successful entrepreneurs:
Tech entrepreneurs face the same "always on" obligation. This is one of the things that makes it hard. You have a plethora of stakeholders, each with their own agenda, and each requiring different levels of attention. Doing it well requires time and you will quickly come to realise that your time is no longer you own.
From hiring to fund raising, PR to social media all the way to corporate culture and shareholder management, the job of the entrepreneur is to find a balance between all these moving parts. You are the beacon and people are looking to you for guidance, inspiration and humanity. There is no hiding from this burden.
At times it will feel like you are a slave to your company, but don't lament this, recognise it and use it to your advantage. You've chosen to do something where few succeed and it will take persistence, perseverance and total commitment to succeed. The sooner you embrace this, the better.
If you think you can escape all of this by going home and turning it off, you are mistaken. One of your most important stakeholders is your family and after a long day, they expect you to be "on" for them. If you are not, they will judge you accordingly and by experience this will not end well. There is simply no escaping the tightrope of the "permanent audition".
I understand that all of this goes against the current "work/life" balance theme so prevalent in the tech world. Unfortunately, this theme is flawed and does a great disservice to anyone wanting to succeed as an entrepreneur. Hard work and total commitment as illustrated by Caine, is the only recipe for success.