This post from Mike Arrington is one of my all time favorites. This quote sums it up well:
When I talk to non-entrepreneurs about the startup world I often use a pirate analogy. Not because I know that much about pirates, but the general stereotypes work well as an analogy.
Why did some people way back in the 17th century, or whenever, become pirates? The likely payoff was abysmal, I imagine. There’s a very small chance you’d make a fortune from some prize, and a very large chance you’d drown, or be hung, or shot, or whatever. And living on a small ship with a hundred other guys must have sucked, even for the captain.
But in my fantasy pirate world these guys just had really screwed up risk aversion algorithms. Unlike most of the other people they actually lusted after that risk. The potential for riches was just an argument for the venture. But the real payoff was the pirate life itself.
Tbh I don't love the tone in this piece (the we’re better than you vibe), but it’s such a great encapsulation of what it is to be a founder. Loving something and giving it all for it, working day and night for scraps, pulling off impossibility after impossibility, creating something from nothing and having a blast while doing it. I think about this a lot and miss it a ton.
I wonder if it’ll ever not be like this for me. Will I ever want something more stable and be more risk off? I'm aware that at some point you're supposed to "grow up" but honestly I hope never do. I can't imagine living any other way.
I've always thought it's better to just repeat something well said than to try to make it your own, so I'll just end with this:
I don’t care if you’re a billionaire. If you haven’t started a company, really gambled your resume and your money and maybe even your marriage to just go crazy and try something on your own, you’re no pirate and you aren’t in the club.
That thrill of your first hire, when you’ve convinced some other crazy soul to join you in your almost certainly doomed project. The high from raising venture capital and starting to see your name mentioned in the press. The excitement of launch and…gulp…customers! and the feeling of truly learning something useful, you’re just not sure what it is, when the company almost inevitably crashes and burns.
It's not too late to join the club.