Business is a Rollercoaster- Be Ready for the Ride!

Lately, we’ve had some things happen here that get me down as a business owner. The good news is, I’ve been doing this long enough that it doesn’t get me nearly as down as it used to but that’s because I’ve been around long enough to know what business ownership is really like.

If you haven’t, keep reading, it might help!

In short – it’s a pretty intense ride and not at all like an always “up and to the right” curve!

One of the biggest giveaways that something was wrong over at Bernie Madoff’s place was the fact that every year, rain or shine, they made money. How was that a tip off? Because no one ever always does well in business. It just doesn’t happen. Bernie was no exception as it turns out, but he got away with it for a long time.

My very first business experience was a great foundation in this truism and I am thankful I learned it early and at the extreme end of the spectrum.

I got an internship while I was still in the last year of my MBA program. The position was for someone to work with two already established entrepreneurs who were running a tech consulting firm to help them identify a new business opportunity that could leverage their trained staff and the current dot com boom that was happening all around us at the time.

I was very excited about the possibilities because at the time we were seeing people become millionaires overnight from some very basic business ideas and it seemed like anything “dot com” was a ticket to riches. I didn’t personally have the money or connections to launch something myself so I figured this was the next best thing.

So myself and another intern got to work brainstorming ideas, thinking about what we could do to create the next world-class business. This was back when Amazon just sold books, Altavista was my search engine of choice, and eBay with its no inventory and no infrastructure model looked like a genius business.

We eventually came up with an idea we ended up calling The idea was it would be a website where apartment owners could have a place where they could collect rent online, post notices, get service requests, and build a community around their buildings.

We built a basic working version, met with venture capitalists, and met with large apartment owners (the ones who owned hundreds of buildings and had tens of thousands of units) and smaller ones.

It was very exciting and for nearly a year I was pretty convinced we were going to raise money and launch this thing to the moon.

The reason this is kind of the extreme end of the emotional business spectrum though is because you always know the clock is ticking. You will run out of cash if you don’t raise money or start selling something and the timeline isn’t that long.

So, every day is exciting but also nerve-racking because you have to make progress or you will fail – there is no long slow decline in the venture-backed startup world.

Some days were walking on clouds exciting.

We’d test a new version of a website feature and it would work great and we’d add it to our demo.

We’d get confirmation of a highly coveted meeting invitation to pitch to an investor group.

We’d get an email requesting a demo, to senior management, for a huge apartment owner group.

We’d get a request that if we could add feature X, Y, or Z, someone was “definitely in” for a dozen properties.

But some days were really tough.

Some new website feature would crash the whole system and we’d be down for days.

We’d get a note that an investor group liked us but decided to pass.  

We’d get a call from an apartment owner that they probably wanted to move ahead, but probably not until next year.

We’d see an article that someone else with a similar concept just raised twenty million to fund their development.

We’d find out one of the investors we were pursuing just closed their fund.

Sometimes these good news and bad news messages would come on the same day, hours apart.

I could start the day down still reeling from the last hit from the day before, then get some good news in the morning and be happy and positive until the afternoon when some new bad news arrived. It was very much a rollercoaster of emotions.

Eventually, after nearly a year, with the equity markets starting to recede, investor money drying up, and no prospects for investment or revenue on the horizon, we decided to throw in the towel on I learned a ton along the way but that was little consolation in the moment.

While I came to realize the business idea was shot full of holes to begin with and in hindsight was not likely ever going to work, at the time I was pretty depressed.

What I learned from the experience was that the good stuff is not usually as good as it seems, but the bad stuff isn’t usually as bad as it seems.

Today, my business still has good days and bad days. I still get anxious when it seems like there is a slowdown in growth or a change in the air around the competition or the industry. And I still go home extra happy on days where it seems like we had a stack of wins come in all at once.

But either way, I remind myself that it will not ever be a straight line and I can’t expect all wins all the time. And I certainly can’t let pessimism take hold because that will accomplish nothing and nothing is ever all bad.

You can only deal with the circumstances you have in front of you and keep pushing ahead. Pivot when you are sure you’ve got a better course down that new path. And enjoy all the wins as they come along.

Being a business owner is a rollercoaster ride – get ready and hang on!

Spread the word:

Similar Posts