2016 / 19 February

What happens when shit gets (too) real.

Most people have ideas. Some are good, most are not. For some, ideas have become their currency, as they develop, design and co-create solutions to problems they’ve identified (or invented). For those of us in the realm of digital development, communications, or dare I say it, the entrepreneurial space, we are judged on the strength and viability of our ideas. There is no better recognition of a good idea than someone external willing to invest their time and money in helping the budding project see the light of day. Between that and someone willing to pay to use your product, it’s ultimately what we all strive for.

This recognition is particularly true in Australia, where the appetite for risk is decidedly under nourished. Compared to America, whose all-you-can-seed buffet is seemingly finding more seats, Australian investors are more considered, more skeptical and less willing to part with big dollars. In principle, it makes sense as our market size means it takes longer to hit critical mass, but it also means that some truly brilliant ideas may never see the light of day or will be continually bootstrapped into oblivion because developers in their parent’s basement will struggle to test their product with their target market.

So now that we sit here looking at our first letter of investment, to me it should be a time to celebrate. Yes, it means that things are about to get real, but it’s also validation for the months of thought and work that we’ve done. It’s the first step of a very long staircase, and one that I’ve been wanting to climb for some time.

What I’ve since learned is that, while for me it’s a time to get serious about what’s to come next (and apparently due to how strangely my brain is wired, this is legitimate cause for celebration), for others, it’s the moment of truth that means they finally pull the pin. When someone else is offering up their money and is willing to put a stake in what you’re doing, it’s no longer a hobby. It’s not something you kick around in your spare time and dream of “what-if”. When things become a “that’s what”, it requires commitment from your team to get to the next stage.

When you lose a team member, at any stage, it feels like a punch to the gut. Particularly one you’ve worked with since the beginning. It suddenly makes you question your own involvement, because the notion that this is not the single most important thing in one’s life is almost a foreign concept and one that stops you in your tracks. It seems strange to say after all these months of work, and finally receiving validation of your efforts that it’s not the thing you want to focus on most.

For someone like myself, I require external input to understand how I view the world. I often wonder if I’m the crazy one or if my point of view is rational. I relish the opportunity to work with my mentors and advisors and learn from any feedback I can.

Thankfully, when the people you choose to form your team and board of advisors are not only supportive and compassionate but truly objective, it helps you work through these shocks to the system. They’re the ones who help you articulate what you already knew, but in a way that makes you feel like the decision to press on is absolutely the right one. And that’s when you realise that not only is shit about to get real, but it’s also about to get really fun.

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