Startups have a lore about them that makes everything seem wonderful. Jeans and flip flops. Dogs in the office. Setting your own schedule. Stock options and getting rich with an IPO (if everything goes according to plan).
But there is the flip side of startups that many people miss. The long hours of underpaid (or unpaid) work that is done on a product that may never see the light of day. If the product does eventually launch it may flop, meaning those months or years of hard work were a financial waste. When you are first starting your company (or joining a new startup), times are more likely to be famine than feast. Few startups have venture capital funding, and you really have to believe in your company to trudge through the hard times.
How to Cope with Startup Life
In short, working for a startup can be hard. And if you start a company today with your own funds, you are likely going to be broke trying to get the company off of the ground. Every dollar of profit gets reinvested back into the company to sustain growth or stave off failure.
The long hours and lack of funds can be draining, even for people used to working in startup environments. How do you handle being broke when you’re working for a startup? Here are some ideas on staying socially active when funds are low.
Share Time with Other Startups
Burning out on startup life? The only people who can truly understand what you are going through are your entrepreneurial brothers and sisters working at other startups. Having space in a startup incubator can be invaluable not only for the business support provided but the comradery, too.
If you’re not in an incubator space, go to wherever other startups and entrepreneurs are. It might be at a monthly event or a simple happy hour. If these events don’t exist in your area, create them.
Go to Co-Working Space
Many startups get their beginnings in the basements and living rooms of their founders to keep costs low. But after a while, never leaving the house (or going outdoors) will wear you down. Find a local co-working space where other entrepreneurs work during the day. You’ll be able to engage in interesting conversations, be able to talk about your product, and get out of the house.
Enjoy Your City’s Free Events
Every good city has a host of free events for citizens and visitors alike. Check out the event calendar and mark down the free or inexpensive events. Things like art festivals and farmers markets will get you into an unfamiliar space that opens up the creative juices while helping take your mind off of your company for an hour or two.
It can be hard for your friends and family to understand how much work you are putting into your company. When you are so heavily invested you tend to shy away from spending money either out of fear of taking away from the business or from fear of showing off in front of your investors (since friends and family members are a common source of funding for startups).
You’ve got some creativity in you because you started a company. Be open and honest with those you want to be social with about your trials, misgivings, and stresses. Tell them how you simply can’t spend every weekend blowing money. Then work together for creative solutions that solve the problem of being able to hang out while not worsening your financial situation.