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Hitting the rock thrice – A mini startup tale

“We’ve had some changes in management and we have decided to automate blogs and SMM.”

And so began the toughest time of my startup life (yet). A few months ago I was perched in a sweet spot. I had a good number of employees and work was scaling up prettily. In fact, during those times, I could afford to take a couple of hours off work without freaking out.

Now I realize it was just that happy movie life shows you before turning into a nightmare.

The client front

We are not married to our clients. They will eventually exit. But, when you lose your oldest, biggest client, all practicality goes right out of that window you sometimes want to jump off.

The company management went through a storm of change and with new authority came new agencies and employees. This burn was so bad to take that 2 months later, it still hurts. All the numbers went against me. Balancing income and expenditure became a huge challenge. For the first time, I started facing the “crunch” for real.

Lost

To make matters worse, another big client suddenly decided to take a break since he is shifting base to another city.

60% of income cut in a span of two weeks.

Of course, I knew what needs to be done: Get back on the bandwagon. Start pitching to new clients! (Enter rant about how afraid I was and how difficult this simple task actually is)

The employee front

Dusting myself, I started talking to new people, pitching about my startup. One of them was positive and when I came back to office to discuss it with the team, one of my employees came to me to “talk.” She expressed that she couldn’t continue working because she was preparing for her exams and would later go on to do her MBA.

Every employee is an asset. Even more so in a startup.

I am not ashamed to admit that my heart started thumping. I kept my composure through the meeting and headed back to discuss the agenda for the day.

Frustrated

While the process of restructuring began, I received another blow to the gut: another employee wanted a 3-week break to cope up with her studies (she is also preparing). She offered to work from home part-time, which was a much-needed silver lining. I’ll just fast forward from here. I had to fire a full-time employee and two of my freelancers backed out due to other commitments – within 2 days

In a span of merely 2 weeks, a full, happy office turned into a gloomy one-employee space.

I know these things are dynamic and keep happening all the time but thanks to the Law of Large Numbers or “coincidence” they ended up syncing their timing.

The commitment that the employee working from home showed during this time kept me sane to say the least.

Now, barely any employees and a massive dip in the income. What a place to be in.

The personal front

Amidst all this were my hospital trips for X-rays and CT scans and checkups and what not. My work personally took a hit too.

Nothing’s more frustrating than knowing that you have to get working and realizing you can’t. I needed rest for a couple of days but the situation refused to allow it. The tension kept going up with no sign of relief.

Thinking

It gets harder to take when almost everyone you are close to has no idea what you are doing. After a hard day at work, when you finally reach home, you want some peace time. You definitely don’t want people asking, “What are your plans for marriage?” or “Why did you come home so late? You just write na?” I cannot afford to give myself another migraine so I am learning to tune all this out and accept the fact that

the fight is mine and mine alone.

Damage control:

It has been 20 days since these bombs fell on me. My employee is back to working full time and I have bandwidth to take care of my health. I have started posting everywhere possible about job openings, sifting through applications, conducting interviews, etc. Alongside, I am slowly talking to prospective clients.

It is a strange feeling when you know you need to get more work but can’t because you have no resources. I am trying not to let pressure and health affect my output.

I know startups go through worse and this probably seems trivial to most but it has been quite an experience for me. I wrote this for the sake of those who are possibly going through something similar. It is difficult but such is the nature of startups. (Enter an emotional paragraph about how much the truth hurts.)

We shall overcome. 🙂

ME:

I run Writing Aces, a content development startup based in Hyderabad. Please feel free to contact me on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to share any advice, suggestions, applications, or resources.

Thank you for reading!

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4 Comments

  1. I got goosebumps & waves of nostalgia reading this !!

    JUST KEEP DOING. JUST KEEP DOING

    You will overcome & succeed. These difficulties are the ways of the Universe to test how badly do u really want to succeed.

    • Thank you very much, Alok! Your encouragement was what I needed to reaffirm that I am on the right path. 🙂

  2. I know you will be a huge success. Keep it on. All the best. 😀

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