13 Things Startup Founders Aren’t Thankful For

November 26, 2014

11:00 am

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude; for startup founders, that means saying thank you to the team who believes in you, the customers who support you, and the family members who put up with it all.

But let’s face it: there’s a lot about startup life to not be thankful for. Although there’s no use in complaining and we all know the ups and downs are part of the journey, it’s also true that entrepreneurship comes with a lot of hassles – and the way to mentally prepare for them is to face them head on, not pretend it’s all exciting coding marathons punctuated by delicious beer and pizza.

Here are 13 things entrepreneurs aren’t thankful for, otherwise known as: all the terrible stuff that could go wrong as you start your own company:

Psychological challenges

“I’m NOT thankful for the constant high levels of uncertainty. We track everything so seeing numbers drop a bit one day can make me feel like a failure…even if we saw numbers increase double-digits for the past five months.”

– Chris Sonjeow, cofounder of LoveBook

Personal challenges

“I was not thankful for gaining 45 lbs in the first six months of full-time working on my startup.”

– Mikhail Avady, CMO of Smartup

“My sad and honest answer: One of my partners has a close family member terminally in the hospital right now. I care very much about him and his family, so I feel terribly for him. It’s also quite the challenge to hold down the fort almost alone. Most of all, it’s hard to balance your own desires to push forward on the company with knowing that the right thing is to go into a holding pattern while your partner needs to grieve and deal with life.”

– Kelly Wilkerson, cofounder of Decipher Media

Random craziness

“I’m really not thankful for being stuck on a bus on a 90-degree evening coming back from a Y Combinator event in NY. The bus broke down just past the Delaware toll plaza. Over the next 6 hours, we put up with mosquitoes the size of hummingbirds, an overflowing toilet, and cramped conditions. Finally, the state police brought a couple of cases of water donated by a nearby CVS pharmacy who somehow learned of our plight.”

– Angela Hausman, CMO of Groupsurfing

Being shunned

“I am NOT thankful for those who refuse to do business or even consider those of us in the Cannabis space. We’re not criminals nor lepers; banks to one email newsletter provider who still hasn’t answered ‘from the legal department’ what ‘terms of service’ disallow us to use their service…. REALLY?!*&&^#@”

– S. Rowan Wilson, CEO and founder of Mary Jane’s World

People problems

“Firing people.”

– Andrei Soroker, founder and CEO of Kato.im

“Lack of junior developers to blame things on.”

– Carl Deamaral, senior software developer at Stackify

“We’re in a somewhat remote area, and that makes it difficult to grow and hire new people since nobody wants to drive out here. While I am enjoying inexpensive rent, I am definitely not thankful for being so far from the rest of the world. I am currently looking for new space in an area where it will be much easier to attract talent.”

– Vladimir Gendelman, CEO of Company Folders

Technical difficulties

“Servers that crash in the middle of the night. Servers that crash in the middle of the day.”

– Alain Briancon, founder of Kitchology

“Google’s pigeon algorithm update. All I want for Christmas is more traffic, please, Google.”

– Bryan Clayton, cofounder and CEO of GreenPal

Funding problems

“I am not thankful for BANKS.  I’ve been trying to get a small business SBA 504 loan to buy our office building for the last few months, and I have found that banks are the biggest hypocrites. Banks run marketing campaigns about supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, yet when it comes down to getting a loan, it’s incredibly difficult for startup founders that are self-employed to get approved for financing. Even if your startup is doing well financially, and you have an excellent credit score, it’s just not worth their time.”

– Carrie Layne, founder and CEO of BestBuzz

No work-life balance

“I am not thankful for the loss of personal life as you start a business. If only there were 32 hours in a day, we could make time for personal life and still have a full day for business.”

– Jacob Perler, cofounder and CEO of Snaapiq

“I am not particularly thankful for the long hours spent away from family and friends – which makes spending quality time together on Thanksgiving something I look forward to, especially this year.”

– Chris Ciborowski, founder and managing partner of Nebulaworks

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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