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Startup Secret No. 20: Easy money, it ain't

Running a startup is harder than you can possibly imagine, those who've done it say. And also a lot more fun.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

"It's harder than you think."

--Multiple sources

At one of the CES events last week, I asked Vladimir Tetelbaum of Swivl for a Startup Secret. "It's harder than you think," he said, about launching a company. "But it's also a lot more fun."

OK, good tip. I was hoping for something a bit more specific, but I can dig it.

Later that evening, I found myself talking with Matt Rogers, the founder of Nest. Got any good secrets? I asked. "Yeah," he said to me, with a sidelong glance. "It's much harder than you think."

You've met Vladimir, then?

"Who?" said Matt.

So that was just weird. Two identical secrets, from two people on opposite ends of the same giant demo room, who actually didn't know each other. I guess the upshot is pretty simple. If you're thinking of starting a business, prepare for hardship.

And if you're running a new business now and it seems like a slog: you are not alone, not by a long shot.

This actually goes back to Secret No. 18, sort of. Brian Wong from Kiip said that secrets are counterproductive for startup entrepreneurs. Or, put another way: don't make things harder than they need to be. There is no startup problem that you face, he said, that has not been faced by some entrepreneur who came before you. And who is probably eager to help you out.

There are just many more potential partners and advisers out there than there are competitors. And some of your competitors might actually be camouflaged friends, partners, or advisers. When I brought 3D printer arch-competitors Bre Pettis (Makerbot) and Cathy Lewis (3D Systems) together at CES to talk about their market, the first thing they did when they met on our stage was hug.

Startup Secrets is based on personal interviews with people building companies and from their blog posts and news stories. Subscribe to Startup Secrets on Twitter or come back to Rafe's Radar every day for a new one. See all the Startup Secrets.