It is OK to struggle

As a mentor at 500Startups, Techstars, and our work at Revelry, I get to help hundreds of entrepreneurs build their ideas and their teams.

While all of our conversations are personal and confidential, I occasionally get a question or comment that resonates so broadly it is easy to share anonymously and hopefully be useful to others.

Tom pumford 254867

Here is a recent conversation:


I just wanted to touch base with you on the prototype. Things are going alright, to be optimistic, it’s just very stressful. I am creating my own product which requires a lot of creative thinking. It’s also very easy to get unmotivated because you’re saying to yourself, “Is this even worth it? I feel like no one will want to acquire me or invest in me,”.

I know that’s not the true mindset of an innovator or an entrepreneur but I’m only [redacted] and I’m surrounded by a lot of jealous people. People who just think I’m “cute” and don’t take me seriously. I know that since I believe in myself and since I want to put the hard work, blood, sweat, tears, and much more into [redacted] I will get exactly what I want.

I just feel like maybe you have some advice for someone who gets discouraged. I know I can’t be the only person who gets like this. I’ve read things on how Steve Jobs would sometimes, rarely, get doubtful. I don’t know. I just know that this will work. I know it will I just want to make sure that after this prototype I will get the acquisition or investment I want.


Every successful entrepreneur in the entire world fights the demons of doubt and fear and imposter syndrome.
Every successful entrepreneur in the entire world chooses to get up each day and slay those demons by DOING something and taking the next step forward by either

(1) doing it themselves, or

(2) successfully delegating the next step(s) to someone on the team.

The arena is littered with the dead and maimed bodies of gladiators who failed to get back up.
The arena is empty of the people who gave up and walked away from a fight they could have won.
The arena is empty of the people who walked away to fight another day, because they realized this wasn’t their battle.

It is OK to struggle.
It is OK to give up.
It is OK to ask for help.

It is NOT OK to literally kill yourself over any idea
It is NOT OK to literally kill yourself over anyone expectations of what you “should” do or who you “should” be
It is NOT even OK to grind yourself down and burn yourself up for any of these things

If this is your dream, you have to live it.
If you want to create something from nothing, you have to provide all the something.
No one else is going to make it for you.

Next Action

Read “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke, and ask yourself, “Do I have to build this thing?” If so, there you go.

No one can advise or help you – no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to [create]; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to [create]. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I [create]?

Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash.






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