Ready to exit? The pressure of running a start-up

By 12th Nov 2018 Nov 15th, 2018 Mylo Kaye
Mylo Kaye Exit Cold Hard Truth - Kev Seto

It’s often hard to browse LinkedIn or Twitter without seeing positive company growth stories, or inspirational quotes on how getting up at 5 am will make you a millionaire. 

While these stories/posts are great in small quantities, and give you a warm fuzzy feeling, they can sometimes make you think you’re not working hard enough, or you’re failing somewhere.

When you browse your feed today, my article will be one of the small, cold hard truths you will read.

Business is fucking hard

Entrepreneurs don’t have an easy job; it’s not meant to be easy. Entrepreneurs are known to be at a higher risk of mental health issues; I can attest to that, I have battled depression for almost a decade.  Whilst starting a company is the most exciting, nerve racing experience you can have in business, it also comes with late night sweats and days where you think the world hates you.

I remember starting one of my first businesses with my business partner when we were students, it was an energy-filled few months of deciding what to call your company, and how cool your website needs to look, it was fun!

Then you hire staff –  some good ones, some not-so-good ones – and so begins the rocky road that is running a real company.

Our first business failed, we didn’t have the right experience between us, hired badly and didn’t have our USP nailed. Those exciting early days ended quickly as we lost money and had to get rid of staff, we were both still young at the time, back in 2011, fresh out on University.

Lesson: Get your USP right, first time!

This is it

Your next idea is better: it’s bigger, brighter and you know ‘loads’ more. You know where you went wrong, and how you’re going to make this business even better. Nope, that one failed too.

Fast forward to 2014 when we started an app development agency With a few good years under my belt running the previous companies we moved into a swanky new office, hired tons of staff, developed a great CSR programme and all was rosy. My best years have been at the app agency, I made some fantastic friends, and it was a perfect life.

Lesson: Don’t lose sign of your goals, even if things look great

Towards the beginning of 2017 sales took a tumble and the business was on the rocks, close friends knew but for the most part it’s not something you go shouting about. My business partner and I discussed what we could do to save the business, how could we save the brand and reputation we had built and ensure that the company could carry on running.

It’s hard to think about giving up, especially when you have worked so hard to build something so special.

Yes, I made mistakes, yes I didn’t always make the right decisions. 

Maybe I wasn’t cut out for it

I had to let a few people go and slim down the business to save it going forward. It wasn’t easy, and to see your baby crumbling in front of you, you ask yourself questions:

Is it me?

Is the business doomed?

Why can’t I do it?

Just give up.

My business partner and I decided I was to phase out from the business, and I began to plan what I would do next.

Giving

I’ve always been heavily involved in charity and giving; it’s something really close to my heart, especially homeless charities in Manchester. Ten years ago I was homeless, so when thinking about what the next few years look like, I decided to put my time and energy into creating a charity to help people in poverty. 

Lesson: If at first you don’t succeed…

The charity is focused on giving others a second chance, a chance to feel human again. It was announced at the beginning of the year that I am now full time working on Pledge, and in March, I officially launch Pledge.

The idea for Pledge was to offer small, non-repayable grants for people living in poverty to buy life essentials such as kettles, toasters and even clean bedding.  These staple items make living a little bit easier, which important when you have other things to worry about.

In 2019, we will launch a fund that members of the public can apply to;

  • Bee Equal Poverty Fund: our main fund for those living in poverty.

The fund has been privately gifted £4,100 by a local well-established business owner.

I wanted to keep this news a surprise for when we launch, but you can find out here first!

Second chance

Life is tough, even without running a business and employing tons of staff who rely on you. I would always recommend doing something you can’t. In business, it’s about learning about what you’re not good at, and either learning those skills or getting someone to do the things you can’t.

On reflection, I think I did okay at running businesses, but I was no expert. If you have the time to learn and be an expert at a craft, I would really recommend it. If you don’t have time and are not interested in becoming a master, then I wouldn’t. 

Find something that you’re passionate about and follow that instead, for me it’s Pledge and I’m excited to share my up and downs along the way.

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