Written By: Don-E Coady (Dc), Owners and Creative Director, Dc Design House Inc.
What do you mean the party’s over?
Oh no, that can’t be right. I’m fresh AF and brand new, baby. Well maybe not, like, ‘out-of-the-box’ new. I mean, I have been around for seven years this month. The loan I took out to start my business has been paid off for years. I employ people – fifteen of ‘em.
Hmm … I guess I should be happy; feel lucky. That parade of well-wishers though – that ‘you-got-this’ crew of believers – where they at? Where’s my theme music?!?!
I’m surrounded by a killer, dedicated team, a dream list of clients and partnering organizations who have made us who we are and allow us to do the things we love to do. But emotionally and operationally? Lonely feels. And why? For good reason—the start-up got-up.
And that, that right there, is the rub: startups are shiny and sexy. Got-up’s can quickly become “yesterday’s news”… if they are even lucky enough to earn that seemingly unfortunate distinction.
In the land before start-up
I started Dc Design House Inc. before the word “start-up” existed. In my past lives I was the creative director for two-tech product and service companies, which got the green lights and the boatloads of cash from funding organizations aplenty. Many parades. Lots of love.
I’ve since seen collaborative working spaces come to life out of the rise against coffee shop loiterers, who were just trying to start something. I’ve seen rental spaces follow suit to offer places where ideas could come to life.
And trust me, I have seen the purse strings widen at the bright-eyed enthusiasm that comes when a brave soul steps out alone or with a few like-minded colleagues to do something new. From tech to service and beyond, with efficiency, productivity or simple social economy in our hearts, the lights are always on for the next big thing. But here’s a thought: It’s lonely at the top.
Pressure makes diamonds
Proving that you actually can crush that damn stone into a diamond of some shape, via pressure and persistence – day in and night out – often comes with an empty echo.
The internal kudos you pay yourself and those who depend on you can feel like the last drops in a bottle you’ve worked so hard to make strong enough to drink from – and to share with many.
Get over it.
By now the violins are calling in the distance from the to-be-proven, and they’re saying: “Get a life you pathetic and thankless loser. You did it. You made it happen. You should be happy; feel lucky! Remember?”
Well first off, luck is a gift you give yourself. Next? Recognize this: I’m as starved to death today as I was when I opened my door on the first day of my business. I just have the newfound ability to say, via a million miracles and magic that we’re still here; with lessons and hopes for the future and help to give… and to get. I’m only human after all, and my beast – though a little farther down the assembly line – is still a powder keg giving off sparks.
What else is new?
In addition to keeping it all going (and growing) while fumbling towards the illusive ecstasy we’re after, one learns to get that 50-foot view on the go, where you’ll also find yourself asking: what are my additional responsibilities today, to my team, clients and community? (Because even though making payroll is just as looming, it’s no longer the only priority).
To mentor and inspire? For sure. To curate the best team and network of like-minded individuals possible? 100 per cent. To think bigger and be better and work smarter and rock harder? Definitely. We all accept these additional challenges – it’s just the ‘got-ups’ way, after all.
*cue the slow clap*
*gets no clap*
*am once again reminded*
As a proud got-up, there’s the biggest and most important responsibility to fulfill – one that, seven years in, I might admit to falling short on from time to time. Maybe it’s more of an opportunity to keep the party going, a reminder to celebrate where things are and to say: “Ok, maybe the floats are packed up and the punch bee’z drank, but guess what? You know how to make your own goddamn punch, and you know how to lean on the recipes of those who are also still making it happen, long after the new car smell wears off.”
Looking forward… still
Everyone in any relationship can agree: Seven years is itchy. The fabric is a bit worn around the edges and you can find yourself buried under the house you built from time to time – that never changes. But luckily, the brand I live started up, got-up, and walks on every day, and for that, I’m thankful.
What’s next? Well we’ve got plans, for sure. What we also need to plan for, is time to celebrate where things are and where they’re going. Huge love and respect to anyone who starts, but let’s remember that the got-ups are the same as they ever were: hopeful, hardworking and ambitious. Maybe we’re not ‘new’, but we’re proven, and on many scales, there’s a lot to be said for a got-up.
Are you a got-up who’s looking for a little renewed faith in the world? Reach out and we’ll have a laugh or two.