This is the second blog in a 7 part series about our 7 company values. You can read part 1 on honour here.
The thing about overnight successes is that they rarely actually happen overnight. Crunchbase data suggests that the average age that a “startup” business is acquired is around 7 years old, 8.25years if heading for IPO. If you’re not high growth, funded and based in the USA, it's likely to be longer than this.
And in terms of how old you’ll be when you get there? Despite all the PR and what we expect from figures like Mark Zuckerberg, the average age of a successful founder at exit in Silicon Valley is... 47!
So if you’re not in your late 30s, chances are high that you haven’t struck gold yet and if you’re on the right path, you’ve got a looong way to go. 7 years is a long time to go on motivated by belief alone, or the promise of distant fame and fortune. Fortunately there is another way to work. Let me introduce one of the core values at Bonjoro.
Verb: To please (someone) greatly
Noun: Great pleasure
1/3 rd of your life is spent at work. It’s not separate from life - it is an essential part of it.
Reading this right now, I’m sure you’d like to be on that dreamliner instead of wherever you are. But pleasure is a short lived emotion. True happiness is what counts, and when you consider 1/3rd of your life is spent working, you need to realise that work is 1/3rd of your life. With that in mind, if you are not doing something you enjoy my advice is that you leave now.
You live once, so go live! This is not about travelling, it’s about meaning, joy, and…delight.
We delight in what we do, which makes us happy. It fulfills us and makes life meaningful.
A note on happiness and pleasure
Pleasure is a short lived emotion, it is not sustainable. True happiness comes from struggle, and then overcoming struggle. It’s why whenever you hear about a founder exiting a business, within 6 months they are back in the garage or keeping busy in some other way.
Like happiness, delight is not a constant emotion. You will never be able to have it all the time but that is a big part of why it is so special.
I love Alan Watts’ dream of life - it’s not so much about happiness, but it explains how as humans we thrive on risk, struggle. This is what we truly need to be fulfilled.
Without delight we wouldn’t be here
As a Delight platform, we’re going to be biased on the subject. After all, if we didn’t understand delight our vision would be a pretty hard one to achieve, but it’s more that we’ve understood the impact of delight on our own lives, and in terms of a cause, it’s utterly fulfilling.
Bonjoro has just passed its 1st birthday, but as a team this is our 3rd product. The first...failed dismally. The second did pretty well, but was not the best fit to our culture...and then there is Bonjoro. We’ve found our calling as a team, but it took 5 years - and looking at the stats we have probably at least another 6 to go. That can be an utterly draining idea!
But personally I wouldn’t change our journey at all. Change any part of it and we wouldn't be building Bonjoro today. We had to learn, graft, gain experince and paid to get here - but to balance that, we have had a lot of fun along the way.
What happens if you never exit, or never succeed?
Businesses can fail for so many reasons. Some you can prevent, others you cannot. Even when startups are successful, who is to say their route to exit is clear?
Ask yourself, if you don’t sell for $3billion, what’s plan B? Do you walk away? Do you carry on?
If you’d walk away, then you’re probably not the right person to build this business, If you are not building something you would enjoy doing without the prospect of a big payday on the horizon, it’s going to take more than money to get you out of bed in the morning day after day after day.
An investor once asked me why we did what we did and one of the primary reasons I gave him was that it was fun, that it brought us joy. Without delight and joy teams burn out. They take the knocks too hard, they drain, and their chance of failure is SO much higher.
Yes we’re here to impact this world in amazing ways. We’re ambitious and our goals are sky high. But its all about the journey, not the destination.
"If employees are treated right, they treat the outside world right, the outside world uses the company’s product again, and that makes the shareholders happy." -Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines