An Open Letter To Entrepreneurs and Mentors

By January 22, 2012

My role at is to talk about my experiences as an entrepreneur. Being days away from a new launch, this time should be exciting and full of positive energy but it’s not. I know many people will read this and act as though I am weak but anyone who has ever felt the true pressures of building a startup or overcome an incredible struggle will understand.  I’m in this entrepreneurial game deep, 12 years of building companies and projects….it’s the source of all I have.  I haven’t taken a vacation in more than 5 years and have worked 16+ hours nearly every one of those days.  I have a saying I refer to quite often that says “don’t wait for someone else to carry your load.”

Being an entrepreneur is not glamorous, it’s not easy and it forces you to recognize and accept your greatest weaknesses with a bitter sting. For each success you achieve, 20 challenges take its place.  You get run down, you feel lost, you feel lonely, you question yourself and the weight of the world is so heavy, at times you want to give up.  I must admit, I feel that weight on my shoulders.  I can see the finish line but the burn from running the race has got me in its grip.

I feel as though I am the last man standing and if I don’t finish, my whole world is in jeopardy.  Then, I look around me, I see people jogging past with ease and the realization that I have been in this position before and many have been here before me.

Paul Graham made some comments on a thread of mine in Hacker News yesterday and it felt nice to have someone in his position take the time to contribute to the conversation.  The point I want to get across with this post has two parts:

Entrepreneurs, I know how hard it is. With every fiber I have in my body telling me to stop, my mind is strong and will never give in.  If you’re struggling, stop what you’re doing and talk to someone.  Unloading your burdens to gain direction is a powerful tool. Don’t let your will to succeed be the wall that stops your progress. Even when you can see every path, everyone at times needs someone to help reset the course.

Mentors, more than likely you chose the groups you work with because they are smart, driven and ambitious.  Be there for them.  Listen to them.  One thing people fail at often, is trying to immediately solve problems. When a server crashes this approach is easy but people don’t always want you to solve their problems. Often, they just want to know that someone gives a damn about them, as an individual. Entrepreneurs are often burdened by taking risks that others don’t understand. As a mentor who has done it, you do. Human capital is valuable beyond measure, cultivate your portfolio and till about the roots of those you champion. Your rewards will be a sweet fruit.