The best way I know how to convey what the early days of starting a company feels like is standing up and pushing with both hands on a solid brick wall. Tons of work and zero movement for days on end. I recently expanded this image after a conversation with Joaquin Roca who pointed out that it’s more like "the brick wall is falling back towards you and will crush you if you don’t continue to press against it with all of your energy."
That feeling of pushing a brick wall happens when people ask where you work and you get quizzical looks, it happens when investors aren’t interested in even taking a 10 minute conversation, it happens when the press is writing about your competitors or ignoring you completely, it happens when you are alone and know nobody at an important conference for your sector, it happens when candidates seem really interested but end up staying at their job, or joining Google, or when prospective clients tell you to come back next year.
As you build your team, more hands join you on pressing the brick wall. I remember the magical moment, probably in late 2010, where it felt like the wall starts to move and gain just a little bit of momentum on its own. I walked into our office after grabbing coffee with a potential job candidate. The phone rang and Laura on our team answered the call. The engineers were hard at work building what we’d decided was the next most important feature. Our head of sales was setting up demos and making calls. I hadn’t really had my hands pushing on the rock that morning and it was moving. I don’t think about it often but that was probably one of the most incredible professional feelings I’ve ever felt.
I think as entrepreneurs, once the wall is picking up momentum of it’s own, it is easy to forget the initial months or years of pushing on a solid brick wall.