The past few weeks have been spent helping my daughter with her new dance company as the executive director. Another startup. I love startups and have since I was in my late teens. And now I’m standing at the crossroads, because this may be my last one.
Startups are exciting energy filled fireballs. Much like the birth of a new star, they are bright, hot and fiery with a powerful magnetic gravitational enthusiastic optimistic pull that draws you and others in. It is also be a black hole for energy, because startups take enormous energy.
Einstein’s famous equation E=MC2 describes how an enormous amount of energy can be converted from a minute amount of matter. Conversely, it takes an enormous amount of energy to create very little matter: M=E/C2. And so it is with startups. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to create something where there was nothing.
Startups are like newborn infants who need lots of attention, love and nurturing. You wake up early, work long days, fix messes like changing diapers, respond happily to coos, concerned to cries, stay awake late, and wake in the middle of the night. The reward is watching your child grow into an independent self-sustaining adult. Startups are hard work with rewards of many types beyond money.
At 21, I started a sales promotion company, “marketing company” in today’s vernacular. I succeeded at sales and failed at operations. At 36, I started a manufacturing technology sales company during the recession and downturn of the early 1990s. We were profitable the first year and this venture provided a wonderful life for our family. In 2005, I opened a dance school for my wife. A social project we committed to as a mission, a promise to God, as a way to give something to children. The school is achieving its mission with wonderful success. There was a software company, a direct mailing company, and a few feral enterprises that were educational experiences. I thought I was done with startups. Maybe I shouldn’t think.
This past couple of months I’ve worked 7/24/365. When I wasn’t actually working at my desk or in the studio, I was planning, thinking, rethinking, thinking aloud, reading and learning. The last few weeks have included many 12 to 15 hour days. It’s been the best of times, and tiring times. I love the process, but it no longer loves me.
I’m a believer in never saying never, so I won’t. What I will say is, this most likely my last startup. Not a last hurrah or a last go at it. The school was a labor of love as is my daughter’s dance company. Helping my daughter has been one of the great joys of my life. Turning my aching back and neck to look back through my bloodshot eyes, I would do it all over again.
Now I’m standing at the crossroads. Unlike the words of the composer and lyricist of “Crossroads” Robert Johnson, I am not going down. As the wise Yogi Berra suggested, I’m taking the fork in the road. My book has been on hold the past four months through my wife’s spring production and working with my daughter. After the shows have finished this weekend, I’ll be on the book-writing road until I reach the next crossroads. And if we should happen to meet at that fork, let’s listen to some good music together.