It’s normal but that doesn’t make it easy

I have a pre-teen at home.

Let’s just say I feel like a rookie dad all over again. I really don’t know what I’m doing – but I’m trying my best.

The other day I was talking to an old friend who let me know this stuff is perfectly normal. He reminded me that I should worry if I didn’t have this stuff going on. It’s just normal stuff and part of growing up.

So true. I remember all the stuff I put my parents through as I figured my own stuff out back then. (The mohawk at 16 during my years at a catholic high school was the least of it).

The same is true with young companies that go through a period of hypergrowth. It’s not easy going from a small group of folks where everyone can fit in a small conference room to a rapidly expanding organization.

That growth doesn’t come pain-free. Everything becomes harder as the scale, stakes and ambition grows.

I am working closely with a number of companies that are in the midst of this. I spend time coaching & mentoring young CEOs with (hopefully) constructive & honest feedback — as well as calming down a few fellow investors that are worried sick. Much of this is normal and to be expected. It doesn’t mean embracing “hope as a strategy” but an acknowledgement that hypergrowth can bring big challenges. Its a healthy perspective and a big dose of patience. 

I’ll end this post with some sage advice from my good friend fred wilson (who has also given me some good parenting advice over the years). Fred wrote a number of years back about ugly startup adolescence. My favorite part of the post

I don’t think throwing out the founder and bringing in a new leader to run the business is a cure for ugly adolescence. I think you just have to go through this stage regardless of who is running the business. You have face the doubts, you have to admit that some of the things you’ve done were wrong, you often have to cut back the ambition and focus on the little things that are working. That takes leadership. If the founder and the team around him/her can provide that leadership, that’s best. If it takes someone new, then you better be sure you found the right person. Because the one thing that will turn ugly adolescence into something much worse is a new leader who is a bust.