“The Struggle is when you don’t believe you should be CEO of your company. The Struggle is when you know that you are in over your head and you know that you cannot be replaced. The Struggle is when everybody thinks you are an idiot, but nobody will fire you. . .”
“Every great entrepreneur from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg went through the Struggle and struggle they did, so you are not alone. But that does not mean that you will make it. You may not make it. That is why it is the Struggle.”
-Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things
What is it really like to be an entrepreneur?
You probably came to this blog post expecting an answer. I don’t have one. I couldn’t possibly tell you.
Letting employees go for a mistake I helped to make? Choosing between selling my company and taking the risk of failure? Replacing cofounders and friends with more experienced executives? These are hard decisions which I and most other people have never had to face.
What’s my point? If we’re not in the trenches and taking risks, we really cannot possibly appreciate what entrepreneurship is really like at it toughest moments.
Rarely does the person (usually me) who cheerfully asks “so, how’s business?” consider the extraordinarily difficult choices that come for someone who’s assumed ultimate responsibility for the success of that business.
In the book The Hard Thing About Hard Things, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Ben Horowitz lays out how he tackled these difficult decisions in the course of building an (ultimately) successful tech company in the wake of the dot-com boom and bust.
Though being a founder can be a uniquely difficult and lonely task, Horowitz shows here that it is possible to gain empathy and understanding for those in what he calls “The Struggle.” This can be one of the great benefits and lessons of working closely with entrepreneurs, even if you don’t start early in founding a company yourself.
Here Horowitz discusses the book and its insights into the entrepreneur’s life: