The Startup Grind is Unglamorous, Even When You are Successful

Startups are glamorized. They can look pretty cool from the outside. This is not helpful to serious new founders.

Sure, there are occasional breakthroughs and flashes of good fortune.

But mostly it’s grinding away. Trying again. Fighting the fight every day.

Watching your to-do list expand faster than your meager revenues and limited time.

It usually takes years for you to feel like you made real progress.

Bryan Clayton is the co-founder and CEO of GreenPal, a lawncare marketplace with 300,000 homeowners being served by 35,000 lawncare contractors.

It’s a national business with a loyal following that looks pretty cool now, but it was really hard, every day, for the first few years.

As Bryan described on the Practical Founders Podcast this week, their product was crappy at first, they couldn’t pay themselves for years, the hours were long, and their local marketing was manual and in-person.

But they kept going. And 5 years in it was working well enough in a couple of cities. Then they finally became an “overnight success in 10 years,” as he says.

Marketplace startups can be doubly hard with two customers that need to come together. These businesses can grow very slowly at first.

And software that has a major real world component with third party providers are even harder to make work. Seriously hard, compared to digital-only SaaS.

Stories like Bryan’s might scare away some new startup dreamers.

But it’s an inspiration to founders on the field who are doing the hard work every day and making slow progress.

As Bryan puts it:

“A founder can get the bright shiny object syndrome and FOMO and see all these trends and waves and get pissed off that you didn’t catch any of them.

“I think the less sexy your idea and the less glamorous the space, the greater your chances of success can be because not everybody’s going to be competing in your space.

“I just decided I’m going to work on my best idea and enjoy doing it, no matter what. It’s what has kept me on track through the challenging times.”

If you are grinding away to build your business and the progress is slow and unglamorous, you should listen to this interview for some refreshing inspiration.

It’s never easy, but your startup dream is not impossible. Keep going.

Check out this revealing interview on the Practical Founders Podcast.


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