“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.”
– Brutus (in the play Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare)
This is a line from my favorite Shakespeare play, where Brutus urges his comrades to seize a fleeting opportunity in an armed conflict.
Ships tend to leave ports during high tide, so as to go along with the flow. Brutus is basically telling his mates to seize the day while the tide is high, because that opportunity will come and go.
Of course, seizing the day is basically the mantra of any entrepreneur – I’m not here to expound on that. What I want to expand on is the notion that entrepreneurs have to seize the day when momentum is at its highest. Because like the tide, momentum comes and goes – and like voyaging ships, its tough to leave the port when the tide is low.
Startup founders know – it’s all about managing that momentum.
When you begin, your startup is a delicate, fragile baby – perhaps existing only in your mind as a concept or an idea. It grows slowly, as you talk about your idea with other people. It grows slowly, as you begin forming your team. Within your team, it will grow as you sign papers and begin working on fleshing out your business model. Along this process, you will feel an energy – an excitement, almost palpable. With each step taken, you will feel this energy grow, and this energy allows you to hurdle the next step a bit more easily. This is startup momentum. It is very critical that you manage it well, as it could mean the life and death of your startup.
Your momentum will suffer blows: I remember being rejected by potential partners and investors or people telling me that the idea sucked. These were a bummer, but I had to keep my momentum afloat, so I didn’t let them burst my momentum.
Important realization: I never stopped. And come to think of it, this is what works for me. From idea to coffee talks to forming teams to creating the product to creating the company to running it- there were no long breaks in between, I just kept chugging along, riding my momentum till the “next step,” until either a company is founded or the idea fails.
I think this is important because once you stop and “take a break” for whatever reason, momentum stops and it’s just really so hard to get going again.
Do you feel charged up and inspired? Take advantage of this tide and do something. Call an entrepreneurial friend up NOW and ask her if she wants to have coffee tonight or tomorrow. You will be amazed at how things can quickly go from there.
Now what happen when you’ve assembled a group of people already? How do you keep momentum?
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