General troublemaking, Social Innovation

How Starting a Startup is Like Starting A New Relationship

I like to be in control of things. I am the type of person who pursues what she wants and am reluctant to let other’s thoughts or expectations stop me. Oh yeah, did I mention that I am a trouble maker? I believe that if an employer or potential relationship does not appreciate that, then it probably isn’t the best fit for me. This attitude has enabled me to accomplish a lot in my life such as landing two of my dream jobs, a handful of meaningful relationships, and some life-changing trips across the glove. But sometimes it’s important to realize that not everything can be controlled not all dreams can be pursued and accomplished as easily, or with as much certainty, as others.

The lack of control is particularly true about entrepreneurial ventures and romantic relationships. In fact, there is a lot of overlap between starting a startup and starting a romantic relationship. Let’s examine.

  1. You’re never really initially sure if he’s into you. Your first few dates inevitably lead to questions: does he like me? Are our values aligned? Is he thinking about me like I am thinking about him? Similarly, it’s hard to feel confident about your progress in the early stages of a startup. For every win, there are often three or four setbacks. Things move more slowly than you want them to. It requires steady effort to build confidence.
  2. You want to dive in full force, but sometimes it’s important to use restraint. When starting a relationship, no one wants to be the overly eager party. You “play it cool” and wait a few hours between texts, and don’t invest all your energy at once. You don’t want to be too vulnerable too early on. In the startup world, it’s easy to want to dive in head first into your idea. But it’s important to evaluate the market, do your research and homework, and tread carefully before you receive market validation and pour your heart, soul, and wallet into this new idea.
  3. It is what you put into it. Both relationships and startups thrive the more you invest your time and energy into them. People generally approach both with a hearty dose of uncertainty, but the more you are scared to give it your everything, the less likely it is to survive and thrive.
  4. Fitting something else into your busy schedule. Especially as New Yorkers, we are always overbooked with work, networking, friends. Starting a new business, or relationship, means figuring out how to adjust your day-to-day to allow for the other in your life. If you are trying to do both at once (like me!), scheduling is even more fun! It’s important to try to find some time for you, whether that’s a ten minute walk during the day or one night off per week. Or else there’s the reality of burnout.
  5. It could be meant to be, but the timing may be off. Sometimes you hit it off with a guy/gal, but extenuating circumstances prevent you from making it work (work schedule, getting out of a relationship too recently, etc.). Same thing with startups. You could have the perfect idea at a not-so-perfect time which may cause it to fail. Recognizing that, and not letting it discourage you, is highly important in moving on.
  6. When it’s good, it’s really good. A majority of first dates and first startups don’t work out, but keeping your eye on the prize is paramount. Because when they do, it’s worth the roller coaster of emotions, the sleepless nights, the fights and the uncertainty are all worth it. You end up with something that you are proud of, that you can’t wait to tell your friends about and post about on Facebook.

But to be honest, if all this was guaranteed, what fun would that be? The tumultuous journey is half of the adventure.


One thought on “How Starting a Startup is Like Starting A New Relationship

  1. Most often, it’s movie stars and sports superstars who have a very high social value. A short-cut to assuming the persona of someone with a high social value is to simply pretend that you’re James Bond, Angelina Jolie or the hottest football, baseball or basketball star at the moment. Silly as it may sound, doing this gets your brain into the right mode to make you aware of how you behave differently than normal. It can be useful for being more conscious of your behavior. However, you need to have a deeper understanding of social value to be able to implement it as a permanent part of your personality. High social value is most often attractive, but not always. In this text, I will explain why …
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