Dear SaaStr: What Should I Do After a Failed Startup? Get a Job or Try Again?

If it “failed” after < 12 months or so, even 24 months, it doesn’t matter too much. No one will care either way. And there’s no need to explain yourself, apologize, or feel like a failure. No need.  Just tell folks you gave it your best and it didn’t work out.

Dust yourself off, and decide if you want to do another one.

And if you do — the key is, just consider that 1-2 year (or longer) start-up an experience. That’s it. The key is:

  • Be matter-of-fact about the experience. I know it wasn’t just “a job”. But sort of act almost as if it was. You tried. You gave it your all. You learned. And. It’s done. You’re ready for the next challenge.
  • Don’t act like it was a Big Deal. It wasn’t (in good and bad ways). I don’t want to hear 20 minutes about your failed start-up. I want to hear 120 seconds.
  • Don’t act like you learned that much. You learned a lot, don’t get me wrong. You took a risk. You worked for nothing. You tried. I respect that. But if you never got to at least $100k in ARR, you didn’t build a business. You started a start-up, but you didn’t build a >business<. Don’t act like you did.
  • Don’t go on and on about it.  There are 1000s and 1000s of startups that didn’t make it.  It’s OK.
  • Be humble, but not bitter. Be humble about the experience. We’re all human. But don’t be bitter. We don’t like to see that.

In Silicon Valley, a quick failed start-up, especially one that didn’t raise any real money, isn’t a negative.  In fact, a lot of CEOs seek out 1 of these ex-CEOs to be on their teams.  They can often do amazing things.

But making a huge deal out of it is a maturity flag.

And dwelling on it will worry people about working with you.

Dust yourself off image from here

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