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A piece of gold found on reddit


Over the last few months, I’ve finally reached the lowest rate of social media consumption and general non-work internet use that I’ve experienced in years, and I feel great about it.

I’ve stopped checking the news, I’ve blocked various sites on my phone that would otherwise occupy my commutes and waits, and as a result, I have much more time to think and ponder.

This is, undoubtedly, a very good thing.

Yesterday, however, I found myself on reddit to sell some items on my local (and very active) subreddit, and, unsurprisingly, while opening reddit to check my messages, I crossed the event horizon and was briefly sucked back in to its siren call.

The post that caught my eye was one on the /r/Entrepreneur subreddit, which is, more often than not, full of spam and junk.

A user had made a post about being a broke entrepreneur who intended on building in public, and thus they shared their Twitter account and a little description of what they were going to build.

The post itself was of little interest, but scrolling through the comments to try and get a gauge on the sentiment of that community for posts like this, amidst the rocks and dirt, I came across a glimmering shiny thing at the bottom of my pan.

What follows caught me by surprise, because it moved me.

“Every person who has ever started a startup is actively going broke. You’re not unique; running down the runway is part of the game.

You’ll find that most ordinary people are inclined to join the peanut gallery and say “See? We told you it was hard. You should’ve had a better plan.” Forgive them, on the account that they’ve either given up themselves in the past, or they’ve never had the guts to start something on their own. As Mark Twain says, “only the great will make you feel that you too can become great.”

That said, you’re probably going to need much more time than you’re estimating, to get to revenue. It looks as if others get to greatness in months, but it takes years. It may take two years, sometimes five years, even ten years. But never six months.

This creates a dilemma, because we’re always told greatness requires full-time commitment and a heroic effort. How can an ordinary startup with meager savings and a non-existent revenue stream endure that path?

This is where ordinary people make the biggest mistake. A startup is not a Delaware registered company. A startup is an ordinary person who puts his full-time commitment into achieving greatness. The startup company may die in the process, but the startup of you will only have begun.

Do what you need to do to preserve yourself. Keep the company going if you want to, or take a job. Keep the idea, or dump the idea. Those things are not the startup you’re building.

The startup you’re truly building is you.”


So much of what TallLime91 wrote here resonated with me, and my experience of fighting on the front-line of indie hacking and startups for over a decade now, and the message is one I’ve tried to communicate to friends and family on many occasions when explaining my rationale for doing what I do:

Startups, ventures, projects—none are zero sum games. To fail at breaking out with something you’ve built after putting in blood, sweat and tears isn’t to have wasted ones time, effort and money. Far from it. Instead, we wake up, toil and wrestle, and in doing so build vast sets of skills and experiences that carry forward with us into whatever we do next, be it another venture or a full-time job.

The startup you’re truly building, as TallLime91 so beautifully put it, is you.