by • January 6, 2017 • Career Entrepreneurship, Founders, WealthComments (1)44

Happy byproducts of startup work (even if the startup doesn’t)

I’ve felt financially secure ever since my first company failed. While I suppose that could be a sign of ambitious embezzlement, in this case it’s thanks to the byproducts of working on a startup: skills, network, insight.

One benefit is that a couple years plodding away on a startup transforms you into an incredible freelancer[1]. While freelancing isn’t the goal for most founders, it’s a safety net that allows for big risks with small stress[2].

Another is that your next startup becomes easier. Skills plus network provides better access to top-tier cofounders[3]. Network plus insight reduces time spent fumbling with a wrongheaded idea and gets you to first revenue faster. Your freelancing safety net relieves the temptation of exploitative early funding deals.


[1] Resources abound on how to get started as a freelancer. If you’re technical, maybe start with some of Patrick McKenzie’s articles. For a more general perspective (if a little heavy on the lifestyle design), check out Tropical MBA’s 1000 day rule.

[2] For freelancing to be useful, you need to be able to turn on the revenue fairly quickly. If you spend weeks looking for work, it’s a sign you don’t know enough people who trust you and your skills. People only count as being in your network if they trust you and respect your work, which generally means they’ll hire you in a flash if they need what you provide.

[3] Too many folks still look for cofounders as if they’re trawling Tinder. If you don’t have an existing trusting relationship (aka network) and don’t have any way to add value yourself (aka skills), then you are, as Devin Hunt suggests, up the creek.

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One Response to Happy byproducts of startup work (even if the startup doesn’t)

  1. […] some founders fritter plenty of time away on low-value tasks or unproductive work. The others resources I’d add to the list are insight, founder skills (development, design, distribution), and […]

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