We hadn’t seen each other
since graduation. I was creating health apps in India and she started an
agriculture business in Latin America. We caught up over dinner and both agreed
the decision to start our own businesses were the right ones. It was thrilling
and fulfilling, but it wasn’t all roses.
There were the emotional
elements, loneliness, at times raw fear, and work-life balance. But the most
surprising was the amount of time and effort it took to build the systems,
logistics, and infrastructure. When we knew each other before, we both used to
sit in front of a screen working on spreadsheets, doing case studies, and
problem sets. We had no idea then what really made a business run. They never
taught us all that stuff. It is attention to detail, boring, tedious, and time-consuming.
But if it goes wrong, the business won’t function, the accounts won’t balance,
and the business will literally get out of control.
We told our horror stories
and thought the next new thing should be a business in a box. But we knew of
colleagues who tried standard system and all complained about their lack of
functionality and the difficulty in making any modifications.