For all of us, we only see founders in the best circumstances, when they’re successful on stage, they’re ringing the bell to stop and change. Life is grand. Billion dollars, a unicorn. Let me tell you the truth. There is a dark side to entrepreneurship and startups that will take everything you’ve got out of your life, to make that venture successful and we are going to go into the deep end to really see and understand what startup entrepreneurship is all about.
The Dark Side of Being a Startup Founder
Hi, my name is Aim Amarit Charoenphan. I am an angel investor, advisory board member, corporate executive, founder and also a professional fail artist.
Angel Investor, Advisor, Board Member, Corporate Innovator, Founder.
You might be wondering, why do I call myself a professional fail artist? It’s really because while you might think, I am completely successful, incredibly genius, all made in. In fact, I perpetually and continue today, to fail, to learn and to go forward. I have started at the very beginning, since high school, having graduated late, in college late, going through so many jobs and careers, having perpetually failed, I have distilled a wisdom over the past decade and I am here on this talk to share with you what I’ve learned through the wisdom of leaders, mentors, from the entrepreneurs that I work with, so you can use that to transform your life, for the better.
How to Thrive as a Startup Founder
What I really want to do in my life which is to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to spend my time helping people achieve their dreams and be a part of change. I put the word entrepreneurship and social together and discovered social enterprises and impact entrepreneurship and realized that passion alone could not build an enduring business.
We really need to understand the nuts and bolts, this really hard endeavor, that will take everything, not just what you’ve got, and also what you don’t know and understand, you need to put it all together; legal, finance, pitching, meeting investors, building a team, running a shop on a day-to-day. And I decided, in 2012, that it was time to start my own entrepreneurial journey. But I’ve never built a company, let alone lead a team, run a balance sheet.
Me and my co-founders, we decided to do the impossible, to start a business that nobody in Thailand has ever done before. We saw it online, on a blog, on Google, and we said, “Right, let’s build Thailand’s first real co-working space”. That was HUBBA.
2015, we decided, as we were running so many events, that we were going to start our own technology, media and conference company. So when we started Techsauce, we really wanted to change Thailand and make, not just co-working spaces, but startup an enduring movement that would change the way people do business in this country.
Find Your Own Ways, Find Your Own Tools to Break Free and Solve the Problems
From HUBBA and TechSauce, throughout COVID, I have come to meet a lot of founders that used to hangout in my co-working space, I invested, and all of us were holding each other by the shoulders and drowning. We were losing money, we were losing sleep, we were depressed and stressed out.
I’ve come to realize, as a mentor and advisor, that this was my time to really help all these incredible teams that I work with, from not dying. And through that start, as I go in and help fix problems and talk to the founders, I realized that so many people within a tech world were in need of somebody who really understand them and to give them the advise that they need to find their own way, find their own tools, to break free and solve their own problems.
We have to prepare for this incredibly hard and long journey. Entrepreneurship, especially startups, is going to be the most stressful thing you’ve ever done in your life. There is no play book. Nobody has done what you’re doing before. And there is nobody to tell you how to run your company and every day is a fight for survival because you are perpetually running out of money, running out of time and you need to make things happen. And you need that mental fortitude and preparation for this very long journey through the darkside to go to the deep end.
I want to share with you the 5 keys to prepare yourself physically, mentally and emotionally to go through this journey in the dark side and come out thriving, be more successful as a high impact founder.
5 Keys to Thriving as a Startup Founder
Key Number 1. The truth about being a founder
1. Being a Founder is Unglamorous
Let me tell you the truth. Being a founder sucks! Okay.
From my experience, working with thousands of founders, everybody starts out as best friends, want to change the world together, we love each other, we enjoy working together. But you really know somebody when the going gets tough, when they’re stressed out, when money is running out. That’s when the real person comes out.
Through that experience, we usually draw out some of the worst in us, and that really, when put together in a room of high stress people, who are going through some very difficult challenges, that usually breaks the team.
How we prepare for it. The business may or may not fail, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about how do we create the right culture and mindset starting from the top.
What type of culture and organization do you want to be in? And how will we grow this business? Are we aligned? Do we have the same vision and mission and how do we adjust when our journey is changed? And that internal struggle within that founding team is more often times what breaks company apart rather than the money itself.
Because at the end of the day, as long as you keep fighting, you live to fight another day. The moment you call it quits or give up mentally, that’s when the company dies, that’s already when the company has failed and we need to be able to help each other maintain that spirit and I think the most fundamental conversation that founders need to have is to really understand who their co-founders, their business partner are.
Picking the right founder on the team can make or break your startup and change your life. It can either make you very happy or perpetually miserable. So make sure, to do this job well, because you’ve only got one shot to invite the founder, the right one, to your team.
2. Failure is a State of Mind
Key Number 2. Failing forward. How to fail like a rock star. It’s very important to know that all the people you see on TV, whether they are rock stars or billionaires, shooting rockets to the moon, they don’t tell you that they are failing all the time.
Why is that important?
Because we all know that doing something really hard like tech startups, you will try and fail and learn every day. But it’s the mindset that we come and approach that problem that will separate us from the people that take it all the way and actually make it or make something of the opportunity. to the 96% of other folks that call it quits at the end of the day.
And it’s OK to call it quits. If you’re not feeling like entrepreneurship is for you or that the stress and the burden is too high, it’s OK.
In this one, you have a shot, all of us have, to really give this a go. And even if you fail, you’re going to learn something valuable, you’re going to be an asset to so many other large enterprises and companies because they are going to respect you for actually stepping out of your comfort zone and trying to do something really hard that no one else does.
Every great entrepreneur understands that failure is necessary to progress, to learning, to growth.
3. Think Like a High Performance Athlete
Key 3. To be a founder, you need to have the mindset of a high performance athlete. In this race, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. This is a career that is going to span many, many decades, but it’s most important to approach this career as a very long game.
How can we be more like a high performance athlete? We need to first take care of ourselves and that’s the biggest lie within the tech entrepreneurship space that’s glamorizing terrible lifestyles. But most people, they burn out.
Entrepreneur coaches that I worked with in the US, they say that most entrepreneurs are already at the highest percentile of being mentally depressed by work and when that pressure comes in and when you are burning cash and you’re sleeping less and you’re starting to have anxiety and panic attacks and nightmares, that’s when things go off the road. That’s when you make bad decisions, when you get into fights, that’s when you break the spirit of the team because you’ve lost the inner game.
How you conduct your life is the reflection of how the company is going to run, the culture, the vibe, the way people work. So I want you, as much as a founder you are, to be resilient, to make sure you eat well, sleep well, that you maintain routines, exercise and always find some space and time to calm down, to reflect, to relax because the team needs it.
The team will look to their boss and their leader and say “this is how this company needs to be run, this is how I should lead my life.
4. Reinvent Yourself Everyday
Key number 4. Reinvention. I am constantly reinventing myself every single day and all founders do and that’s a fact.
Most important is a lifelong passion to learn. We need you, like this talk today, and many other talks like it, to continuously absorb, consume and process all this incredible information and say “how can I use this to improve my life?”.
And the best way to learn is experiential. You’ve got to put what you learn into practice.
Learnt about starting a startup today, go and build one. But, you need to believe that you can be a founder, that you can reinvent yourself and join this incredible community and movement.
5. Create a Movement
Key number 5. Creating a movement. Entrepreneurship is more than just about making money. It’s about mindset, not the role, not being a fancy business partner. Mindset is being able to observe and identify problems, trying to come up with superior solutions, and innovations to solve them for good and hopefully at a very rapid and global scale. And if you embrace that mindset then you realize that we’re not just trying to build a cash machine, we’re trying to create movements. We’re trying to change the world for the better.
I implore all of you to bet on humanity, to bet on this incredible new industry that is both great for you financially and business wise but also great for the world. And we need all hands on deck, as many people to join this movement, as much as possible.
5 Keys to Thriving as a Startup Founder
- Being a Founder is Unglamorous
- Failure is a State of Mind
- Think Like a High Performance Athlete
- Reinvent Yourself Everyday
- Create a Movement
If you are depressed, despairing, want to quit, remember, you are not alone on this journey. There are folks like me, angel investors, other founders, everybody in the community are going through the same journey and we know how tough it is. And that is why, find us, ask us questions, work with us, let’s stay connected because in this together we will succeed.
Entrepreneurship may be right for you or not but if you feel like it is, I want to invite you to get off the bench because I want to see you on the pitch.
This is CI Talks.