What do you do for a living?

This is the hardest question to answer for founders.

I’ve always struggled with it. Mostly because of the perception of being a founder. Imposter syndrome is rampant when the answer is “I started a company” or “I’m the CxO of the company I started”. How arrogant and unreal does that sound? The role wasn’t “earned” in the traditional sense. It was taken, not bequeathed. Anyone can start something and name themselves king.

When anyone asks that question I will most often demur to the fact that I was unqualified to do anything other than to start a company.

I will diminish the value and experience that starting a company gives its founders.

I will try to change the subject as quickly as possible so I don’t betray the real struggle that comes with building something from the ground up. No one wants to hear the real parts.

I will listen to them talk about starting their own company and how much freedom that would bring. Like it’s the easiest thing in the world to do and success is guaranteed.

I will listen intently (and many times with envy) as everyone else details their elaborate vacation plans.

I will question every decision that I’ve ever made that led to where I am at that moment.

Most founders aren’t creating the next Shopify and that’s what a startup founder means to most people.

No one has ever heard of the companies I’ve started.

They won’t understand when I say the greatest accomplishment has to be that we haven’t missed payroll in 4 years.

It is a loaded question because most founders and entrepreneurs do what they do JUST to make a living.