Dear SaaStr: What Are The Benefits of Having Your Own Startup?

Few things are harder than being a CEO, once you have something. It’s so hard, it weighs on you all the time.

But the benefits are also unique.

My list:

  • Always being engaged. This is a subtle but huge benefit of having your own startup. Yes, it will consume your thoughts. Not entirely at the beginning, but later almost 24×7365. But the flip side is you’ll never be bored when work is involved, and more importantly, you’ll never have the ennui of being in a meaningless job. You will always be engaged. Your mind will always be working, processing, and innovating.
  • Not having to work for a bad boss (but pick your VCs wisely). Another benefit I didn’t get at first, but not having to work for a bad boss is wonderfully liberating. But remember, your board and VCs are legally your bosses on many levels. So pick wisely, if you have choices here.
  • Getting to pick who you work with. This is the best part. Recruiting is tough, tiring, and never-ending. But the benefit is you get to pick who you work with. You never get this if you join an established company.
  • The best memories. As the years go on, you’ll look back at your start-up struggles with your colleagues and see those as some of the best memories of your life. And the folks that really made it happen, you’ll be bonded to for years and maybe life.
  • Ages you, but keeps you young. Yes, startups take their toll on you. But they are also a constant education. You are always learning, and this keeps you fresh and alive.
  • Building something enduring. This is hard to pull off, but if you take it far enough, you can build something that at least last decades. Nothing will truly last forever. But it’s special to be part of something that endures for a decade or longer.
  • Relevance. Another subtle but important benefit. Once you have customers, you are relevant. If not to TechCrunch at first, at least to your 10, 15, 100 customers. To your team. To your ecosystem. They care. A lot. This is a wonderful thing, to matter. Sell your company, no matter for how much, and you may find that in even 90 days, you’re no longer relevant.  Your product gets renamed.  Your team moves on.  But run it yourself, and you always matter.  At least to your customers and team and partners.

Some meta-thoughts.

(note: an updated SaaStr Classic answer; I’m the Boss image from here)


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