The Bravado Bullshit

There is no part of a startup that is easy. Think about it, you are going against conventional wisdom and hereditary lines. You are sacrificing the now for a potential in the future. You are convinced that your idea is better than what is out there. Hill meets mountain meets Everest.

Why, then, do founders feel the need to gloss over how absurd it really is to start a business? Ask a founder about their business and they will almost unanimously say a variation of the same thing: “We are killing it”.


No founder of an early stage company is killing it. Certain aspects of their business may be balanced, growth may have started, revenue may be rolling in but I can guarantee that they aren’t “killing it”. They don’t have the right talent, they can’t find funding, their top customers are leaving, they have bills piling up that can’t be paid — they aren’t killing it, they are running a company that is most likely killing them. That’s what they meant to say.

Whatever this false pretence is that makes founders hide from the truth and not ask for help is so detrimental. It’s negligent.

I’ve been there before and it happened yesterday. The first time was when I felt I needed to carry the burden and shield my board and my team from the realities of our financial situation which led to layoffs. The most recent time was a co-founder’s candid conversation with an investor who said “it just seemed like you didn’t need anything”.

Bravado is a requirement to step out and do something different but it can also step in the way of success. The next time someone answers “killing it” to your question of how things are going, dive in and find the truth. You may just give that founder their greatest unlock.