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11 Terrifying Truths About Running a Startup

Sarah Griffiths
Freelance Journalist

With business stresses and the dreaded human element of a team to support, running a startup is downright scary. From cash flow woes to those technology gremlins which are known to strike at the worst possible time, worries emerge like undead hands grasping out of a grave.

In honor of Halloween, founders from Oracle for Startups shared their own personal nightmare scenarios. So turn on a light, check the closet for monsters and enjoy the fearful feast – if you dare.

Gruesome operations
Bloody surgery appears in plenty of horror films, but thankfully it’s not those kind of operations giving Gilbert Verdian nightmares. The CEO and founder of  Quant Network, which came up with Overledger, the first blockchain operating system, says “Getting the operations, delivery, team, technology right to be able to achieve the vision you set out to achieve keeps me up at night.” He also worries about being responsible for the wellbeing of his company, staff and clients, which as every boss knows, can feel like a monstrous weight on your shoulders.

Missing out on life
“All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy,” wrote the ‘protagonist’ of The Shining (repeatedly, maniacally). Nik Adhia, Oracle for Startups’ head of Global Operations, worries about his team working outside hours and missing out on important personal moments. “With the support of managers, everyone has a responsibility to look after themselves, set their boundaries, and ensure they can optimise for a work-hard, play-hard mentality,” he says.

Scary overlords
Super villains are a staple of hero and horror films alike, crafting dubious plans to bend the world to their will. For blockchain companies, overbearing regulations can feel like an antagonist to progress. At the heart of Credits’ blockchain platform is a decentralised and transparent approach to interacting with people within the financial sector. CEO Igor Chugunov says his main concern is the governing regulations of countries. “I perfectly understand that technology has its supporters and opponents, but it is extremely important for me that people preserve its fundamental principles, thereby bringing more trust to the world.”

Missed messages
Imagine how many horror films could have had a happy ending if the characters had just called the cops! The fear of miscommunication keeps Oracle for Startups’ Director of Global Communication Amy Sorrells up at night, because it can happen so easily. “In today’s digital age, where teams are dispersed globally and the need to move quickly is key, often communication gets lost or misconstrued or doesn’t happen at all,” she says. Sorrells believes we’re all offenders, but we must be more intentional about over-communicating.

“Yes, even over-explaining isn’t bad here. Remember the power of direct communication: Get face-to-face or jump on a video call. Never forget the importance of non-verbal communication and body language,” she says. A top tip especially if you’re interviewing a vampire.

Stage fright
While vampires are nocturnal, Oracle for Startups events manager Simi Joshi is not. Still, she sometimes stays awake all night before important events, worrying about what could go wrong. “Even if I know I'm prepared, I can't seem to shake the anxiety. I worry about what I have to do or if I've forgotten something,” she says. To try and beat this horrible habit, she reviews her completed to-do list and listens to soothing music before bedtime. “Always keep in mind that no matter what happens, you will always have tomorrow. This one day does not define you and in the long run, it will not be a big deal.” After all, even in horror movies, the sun has to come up eventually! 

Stick-in-the-mud monsters
Muddy swamps can be home to plenty of horrifying monsters in movies, but sticks-in-the-mud can be worrying in business. “When creating chainlinks, you are only limited by your imagination and at North East, we pride ourselves on our abstract thinking,” says Charles Holmes, Director of the startup, which aims to assist regional companies in reducing risk when interacting with external data, keeping their nightmares at bay! “Working with people who are resistant to change and innovation has been known to keep me up at night.”

Serious imbalances
Fragility of balance keeps Lee Reeves, Business Development, Oracle for Startups awake at night. “In a 24-hour period, I wear multiple hats: spouse, parent, co-worker and friend, and I struggle with the complexities of each hat. I’ve learned in my 33 years is that I just can’t be all things to all people. It’s not sustainable. In this day and age, you’ll burn out, plain and simple,” he says.

To do his best, Reeves tries to focus 100% of this time and energy only on things that he can control, so he can be the best version of himself.

Being beaten by the enemy
Entrepreneurs fear working day and night on their idea, only to find a competitor with more money and resources has done it, according to Michael Dermer, Founder and Author of The Lonely Entrepreneur. “That’s why it is not enough to find a unique selling proposition – you have to find a playground where no one else is playing – a place where you set the rules and everyone else follows,” he says. Dermer believes all entrepreneurs lose sleep wondering whether they are doing everything they can to bring their passion and idea to life like Frankenstein (but with a happy ending).

A deserted landscape
How many times does a baddie jump out from a deserted car lot or empty alleyway? Well, it’s not eerie landscapes keeping Dan Langton, Owner of Datatel Solutions up at night, but the problem of empty seats in the office, the “negative unemployment world in technology,” as he puts it. “Finding developers skilled enough to support our architected platform is daunting, especially in something as specialized as Blockchain,” Langton says, adding that his start-up is helping to address this problem. 

A lack of security
Just as inhabitants of a small town in the middle of nowhere may fear a breakout at the local high-security prison, a digital security breach is every blockchain company’s nightmare. “As you know, there’s no such thing as fool-proof security and so we are constantly engaged in ensuring that our application is as secure as it can be,” says Langton, pointing out that for companies like his, which are in the telecom and fintech industries, security is a “paramount concern,” as the safety of user data is everything.

A lame party
While a box office flop may keep producers of horror movies up at night, Gavin Cunningham, co-founder of Constellation Group says “building something that nobody wants” is a business nightmare. “It's like throwing a party that nobody turns up to,” he adds.


Happy Halloween from Oracle for Startups.

Share your business nightmares with us! #spookedstartups

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