Finding my voice

The bee found her voice yesterday, so I thought it’s only right that I find mine as well.

I’d like to say I’m sorry I haven’t written in a while, except it’s not true. I’m sorry for a lot of things over the past couple of months, but, sadly, not writing is not one of them.

I’m sorry I haven’t been able to see many of my friends, I’m sorry I’ve neglected family, I’m sorry I’ve been a jerk to a lot of people, heck I’m sorry Steve Jobs is dead and I’m sorry that RIM leadership had a total brain fart around it’s outage over the last couple of weeks – seriously RIM, giving people free downloads on your platform as a way of saying your sorry is like hitting me over the head with a hammer and then saying sorry, here’s some free nails. All in all, I’m sorry for a lot but I’m not sorry I haven’t written.

Here’s the thing, being self employed, an entrepreneur, company director, whatever, is hard f’in work. People tend to glorify it, with the success stories (hello Forbes, nice piece on Dropbox), but few people tend to write about how difficult, how stressful and how lonely a process it can be.

Lot’s of writers have written about how to be successful you need to be resilient, stubborn, and kill it with execution but no one seems to shout about how hard that really is. Seriously, the next person who tells me their going to do their own thing I will shake significantly and yell “ARE YOU FREAKING SURE YOU WANT TO F UP YOUR LIFE?” and if they continue to go down the entrepreneurial path, so be it.

I’ve been working on Ad Avengers for over 18 months now and we’ve “pivoted”, we’ve fundraised, we’ve launched, we’ve iterated, we’ve sold sh*t, we’ve resold sh*t, we’ve pounded every inch of resilience we can get out of ourselves. And we’re still not where we forecasted we would be at the end of 6 months let alone 18 months.

On one hand, we’re so close to making significant revenues, so close to having a really good proposition, so close to having what I would call a killer company. On the other hand we’re so close to packing everything in, to saying screw this let’s go work for another big tech company, so close to being so leveraged that you just thing, “Why am I doing this again?”, that makes life really difficult.

There was an interesting post on Hacker news a couple of weeks ago from some kid who shared how difficult life had been as a 20 year old with no degree, a failed start up and living with his parents. Well, it’s just as hard or harder when you have a family and kids to support and you’ve managed to have some success but still can’t turn the curve of the hockey stick fast enough.

I’m reading a great book about math(s) right now, I’ll share more about that later – hopefully this won’t be the only blog post of mine this week. And it’s made me realise that entrepreneurship is a lot like gambling, you have a really small chance of beating the house, but you have to play long enough to see that chance through, and that it can be stressful while the house looks like it’s going to clean your clock. Everyone thinks they can beat the house but few truly do.

So even if I don’t beat the house, at least I’m writing again.

  • Josh Liu

    Hey Farhan,

    I really feel for you, and we are definitely in the same boat. You know you are solving a meaningful problem, and you know you are gonna nail it. It can get frustrating from time to time. 

    And, yes, all the media are full of news how bubbly the tech world is, how many startups have raised another big round and so on. It is difficult but it is definitely the noise we should keep ourself away from.

    Look at what you have achieved and feel proud of it. If I were your kid, I would be very proud of a dad like you. :)


  • Farhan Lalji

    Cheers dude.  Much appreciate that comment.

  • Shireenbee

    Welcome back….
    I happen to know your kid and your wife and they are proud of you and all you have worked for.  We love you for taking the road less travelled, even if its sometimes lonely and for always being home for a bedtime story!
    Bee x

  • Emily Huisman

    Just wanted to add that I’m proud to know you, too :) And while I’m reading and writing this, my girls are watching a video about Scottish sweater makers (Pringle?) and learning the phrase “if it’s not Scottish, it’s crap”. Awesome. 


  • Omkar

    So true Farhan. Just keep going buddy – its all worth it at the end :) Good luck!

  • Anaarshariff

    you can own up about how sh*tty it’s been and write about this, well done, that’s life, you fall down, you get up and start walking again. keep talking and sharing, loveyou, Farhan

  • leigh

    lol i’ve now pinboarded this post to give to anyone who tells me they want to do a startup.  my hardest days are when my 3 yr old starts hitting me bc he’s pissed off that I haven’t been around that often and doesn’t have any other means of expressing it.  it also reminds me that no matter how hard I have to work, he really only wants my time and no matter what i have to give it to him.  I think your wife’s comment below is awesome by the way :)