When I started my first tech company four years ago, I really had no idea what to expect. I’d always had the dream of owning my own company and had spent my career working in R&D environments and loved solving difficult engineering problems and inventing new concepts and products. With this foundation, and with a solid team of other amazing engineers, I figured we were poised to build an exciting R&D business. What I didn’t recognize was all the things I was NEVER taught in school.
My first few years were a rude awakening to all my shortcomings in business. Accounting, legal, operations, business development, and customer service were all things that I had to learn, and learn quickly. My dad was an entrepreneur and he said that starting your own business was an “MBA by fire” – no kidding. Those years were some of the most exciting, and anxious, of my life. What I’ve come to appreciate is launching a startup is like playing a game – a very strategic game — you have to learn the rules and how to play, but once you do, things become very exciting.
A friend of mine once described his years of playing professional hockey to me and said that every time he moved up a level in hockey, he couldn’t believe the fast pace of the around him and how overwhelming it was. But with practice and exposure, at every level, he said the game would suddenly “slow down” and he could see the ice and opportunities all around him. This blog describes the lessons I’ve learned in the tech startup game that finally feels like it, too, is starting to “slow down” for me.