Startup Truths: There is no Time or Money

I was reading Matt Mullenweg’s post about an interview that Robert Scoble recently had with Jonathon Schwarz of Sun in which it seemed Sun continued to be disconnected with reality. With respect, Schwarz responded and apologized for the perception that Sun presented. (As a sidenote, the comments on Schwarz’ entry are quite good).

Matt makes a statement that struck me as so profound that it leapt off the page at me:

At one point in the Scoble interview Jonathan Schwartz says something to the effect of their startup program targets folks with more time than money, where their enterprise customers usually value time over money. I think this might represent a fundamental misunderstanding. While I think this argument could be made for the motivation of some segment of Open Source communities, the situation in startups is even worse “” time and money are both scarce.

Anyone who has worked in a startup recognizes that Schwarz’ comment on startup is completely false. When I was working at Northrop Grumman and volunteering for b5media, I had no time and, let’s be honest – that’s really how most startups begin. Unless the folks at the helm of the startup already had capital and traction in the startup world, they need someway to pay the bills. Most folks in this situation work a “day job” ansd then slave away at the startup at night or on weekends trying to make it work.

Even once a startup is funded, this doesn’t really change. The pot of gold gets bigger and the strategies get more aggressive. Sure, you’re not working a day job and trying to make the startup work at night, but you face other challenges. Please don’t take this as complaining because I love what I do, but I still find it strangely ironic that folks sometime think us startup guys don’t really do anything but sit at home and surf the net.

My wife will tell you that I spend a large amount of time working late, spending time in front of the computer instead of going to bed with her. It’s not a cakewalk like some people might think it is.

I laugh at my dad who has no clue what I do. I tell him but he still doesn’t “get it”. He says, “People always ask me what you do and where you’re at and I just tell them, ‘I have no idea what he does but he does it well’.”

I’ve never been happier in my life. But anyone who thinks that startup guys have lots of time on their hands is fooling themselves. In some ways, there is more pressure to perform than in the big corporate environment. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

9 thoughts on “Startup Truths: There is no Time or Money”

  1. This is an excellent post Aaron and does put into perspective the picture of working all hours of the night, I can confirm that my company seems to be on the same schedule as yours because late at night while working you have been online at the same time.

  2. As the old saying goes, “If you need something done, ask a busy person.”

    A lot of folks who get involved in network marketing (aka multi-level marketing *or* “MLM”) schemes often have that very comment drilled into their heads, it seems. At least the folks who really don’t have a measured level of success in their lives.

    People who have been successful in their life, at least once, know the realities of that comment.

    The busy people, the ones who are productive, always have far too many projects on their plate at once, yet always seem to get them done, on-time, on (or under) budget, without the world hearing all the moaning and groaning, are the people who make things happen. Too often, though, they do their best work for others, never venturing out into the wilds, taking a chance on their own capabilities.

    Have fun at what you do, and never let anyone get you down. Your conclusion sums it all it.

  3. I can say with 100% certainty that starting any new business (if you’re serious about it and do it the right way) is no different than having a child. Shut up. I’m a woman and I have two children, so I’m qualified to make that statement.

    You worry constantly, you’re up late at night, you’re never prepared for the twists and turns of making it a success, and you wail like a lunatic when it no longer needs you for its survival.

    It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done…both — raising kids and the business — but I’d jab forks in your eyes if you tried to mess with either. It’s the greatest feeling in the world to walk into my coffeehouse every morning and know that my future is wide open.

  4. Note to self: Do not mess with Carol’s kids or business.

    Very well said Carol. As a father of four I could not agree more. In addition to you points, your heart can also be broken and shattered in a million pieces when things don’t go well. The analogies can certainly continue in this fashion.

  5. Which one is easier to waste? Money or time?

    If someone wants to talk with you for 5 minutes, you will talk with him. But if someone wants to borrow 5$ from you, you’ll ask him why. I think that’s the point.

    Two japaniese guy was arguing in the bus station. I hear the guy asking his friend which one is expensive : 1 minute or 1 $ ?!

  6. Start-up company owner generally means you have the toughest boss out there. No breaks, No time off and often no fun. The anchor on the rope. You employ people who make more and work fewer hours than you do. Personally, I value the time freedom more than I would enjoy the steady paycheck. Most of the time. Time and money are both pretty tight in the start-up world.

    Time is worth far more than money.

  7. It has to be one of those, you have either done it or you don’t get it things. A good friend told me his parents started a bakery. Everyone said, “Wow, you don’t have a boss, that must be great!” They would always say, “Yep, the great thing about being self employed is that you can choose whichever 80 hours a week you want to work.” This is still true or technology startups, you can go shopping with your wife at 2PM, but you’ll be paying for it at 11PM.

  8. Aaron beautiful post and so on the money. It is amazing how I get the same thing at home. I have stated numerous times to my wife and children just because they hear music coming out of the room, or happen to walk in and see the internet on the screen does not mean I am not working.

    Just like others being the sole person doing the bulk of it all I find time is just as limited as money. I keep doing it because firstly “I love what I do” but I also know if I stick true it will pay off.

    Great post

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