My baby is 19 and a half months old. I haven’t slept in 601 days – not that I’m counting. I’ve had no more than a couple thousand rupees in my personal bank account for nearly all that time – yes, I am definitely counting. Waking up early, 1 year, 7 months, and 15 days ago, with that undying determination to start Butter Me Up, was just the beginning (quite literally), and the easiest part of all. Some days I feel like I deserve a mother of the year coffee cup, other days I feel like I could be featured on one of the crazier episodes of that show ‘Teen Mom.’ I learned some stuff (read: everything) the hard way and here are my thoughts on various things I hear when people find out I started a business.
You have all the time in the world now (really?)
Did I mention I haven’t slept since 2016? That 9-to-5 my old boss had me on suddenly seemed a lot less daunting when I realised what a hardass my new boss is. She’s so neurotic that I’ve been on a 24-hour schedule with no punch-in or punch-out time and now 9-to-5 doesn’t seem so ‘grindy.’ When ‘you are your own boss,’ you work around the clock and continuously push yourself one step further, because that’s what’s necessary to take your company to the next level. It’s the example you set for your employees. Because if you’re not proving every day that you’re willing to work harder than anyone on your baby, why would anyone you employ want to put in that effort either? As a wise man in red spandex once said, maximum effort.
You are your own boss (duh!)
In theory, yes. But starting off on your own in a field like this (usually, and hopefully) means you have clients and business that you are solely accountable for – not your team or your ‘boss,’ you. In the start-up world, your clients quickly and seamlessly become your bosses and making them happy becomes key. Yes, you are your own boss in one regard, but you suddenly have ten bosses you now answer to and guess what? Each one has the ability to fire you and none of them are worried about your other bosses. If you’re a glass-half-full kind of person, that also means you get to quit a couple of times if some of your bosses are too unreasonable.
Overnight billionaire (say wha?)
Who comes up with these things? Starting a company is nothing like winning the lottery and none, I repeat none of it, happens overnight (okay, some of it may happen overnight, but that’s the equivalent of striking oil). Sometimes, just hitting the ‘Publish’ button to launch your website can let you down. It is tedious, to say the least, but if you’re passionate about what you’re doing (which, you sure as hell should be), every sleepless night, 10-cups of coffee day, and stress-eating binge is worth it. Will your passion or your idea make you a billionaire? Probably not. There are a lot more ideas out there than there are billionaires, after all. But every single experience (the good and especially the bad), is priceless. In this line of work, any mistake you make ends up hurting your baby and by extension, you. And those are the mistakes you never make twice. So priceless experiences may not pay the bills right now, but they’ll put you in a position to get there.
Your daddy funded your start-up (why not?)
BMU started with Rs. 18,000 in the company account, a degree in English, and an idea. Oh, and an office space rent-free for a few months (BMU’s grandma is one of those ones, you know, the ones that are truly offended if you are not unbutton-your-jeans-full). I have to admit, accepting that last part made me feel like I was betraying the Super Secret Syndicate of Struggling Start-Up Founders. Come to think of it, that may be why I haven’t gotten my invite yet (email’s at the bottom guys, I pay rent now!). While I felt bad about betraying the unspoken code to never “sell out and fight the system,” I was never going to put my baby on the line to prove a point. I don’t subscribe to the mindset that you have to start at the bottom to enjoy the view from the top. Everyone has a different path and people often get hung up on the idea of what the journey should be, instead of being focused on making the most of their starting point.
That’s all for now, folks. The baby is up and about to put a fork into an electrical socket.