I just archived another email…
Another request to help someone. Mentor them. Advise them on a new project. Connect with them. Meet for coffee. Try out their beta. Promote something. Listen to or troubleshoot their problems. Usually these requests wouldn’t bother me, but today they do.
You see, doing a startup is hard work. You only have so much energy to drive things forward. At times, I’ve used every last drop of my creative and physical energy to get things to where they are today, and keep the momentum going. Everything that happened is because of an action. Do nothing and nothing happens. It feels like I’ve been pushing a muddy cart uphill solo and then some (brilliant) others joined when they could see the destination.
But there’s lots more to do and sometimes I need the help too.
My friend once said to me: “You have to be selfish to be selfless”.
And it’s true. I cannot continue to provide for others if I don’t get my own company’s foundation firmly planted.
I’ve always been independent, self-sufficient and practical, looking after myself from my early teens.
From four years ago, when I wanted to discover more about startups and Silicon Valley – I flew myself there and back from Australia many times. I slept on couches in Palo Alto while barely post-pubescent grads coded around me until 4am. I went to events as a nobody and introduced myself. I trawled investor-authored blogs, Hacker News and Quora for knowledge. I bootstrapped my own projects via savings, testing the market fit. I found opportunities by being ridiculously curious and interested in the space.
I’m sure it’s a story many others share.
Now, I find it a little ironic that I’m asked to mentor on programs where entrepreneurs get flown about, accommodated, advised, introduced, sent to events and even funded off the back of a fuzzy idea on a LaunchRock landing page.
That’s it though – if there’s support, you need to take it.
Don’t do a me. There’s nothing noble about it – it’s stupid. It’s becoming increasingly obvious the best entrepreneurs are the ones who can bring the help together.
Case in point: my other friend (who’s a loveable extroverted chap) was recently transitioning from consulting to wanting to do another startup. Around a month ago he invited many of his network out for dinner one-on-one to chat about his new ideas. He then brought people together to get a landing page done and shared in a startup-related group that he’s looking for a cofounder. A couple of days ago, his new site was featured on TechCrunch.
The difference? He’s asking for help left, right and centre.
So, if you’re more like me. Get out there and find the advice and support you need. Speak up for it… consistently. It’s not being shameless or weak, it’s being smart.
I look forward to giving more again soon. Once I first learn how to ask.
Related: Check out Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk on the art of asking.