I don't get paid for working hard.
by Anjali Gupta
I don’t get paid for working long hours. (I don’t even get a comforting “I appreciate how hard you worked” speech from a supervisor).
I don’t get paid for the million emails, thousand proposals, and hundred presentations I’ve produced.
I don’t get paid for saying no to short-term opportunities in the interest of focusing on the product.
I don’t get paid for the hours I spend building the company’s morale, the team morale, and later my own morale.
I don’t get paid unless a large portion of the market accepts my product.
Who am I?
The answer is a no-brainer. The hardest lesson that an entrepreneur has to learn is to let go of years of conditioning defining the meaning of hard work. Traditionally, work hard = work long hours, or work hard = produce something tangible, for example, revenue, products, presentations, proposals and so on. If you’re an entrepreneur, just working “hard” and long, does not directly correlate to success. Only the market decides if your work will be rewarded (in profits). There are many intangible and priceless rewards along this path such as rapid self-discovery and several life defining experiences but lets keep those aside for another post.
Typically, you will lose both money and time until your product stands out in the market. Venture money has softened the brutal lessons that markets are intended to teach, but even with VC money, one is still paying with equity for the comforting notion of getting paid for one’s work.
Yesterday happened to be one of those days when I fell into the old trap of thinking. I found myself frustrated with everyone around me and blaming the lack of “hard” work for the lack of results on a certain project. Thankfully, a close friend, and fellow entrepreneur put me back on track.
I cannot let myself believe there is any law that correlates hard work with immediate reward. The market is teaching me everyday there isn’t. Someone else may be better, earlier, or cheaper at doing the same thing. I have to keep trying and hope to get it right before it’s too late. There are a million factors that change the market every day- competitors, economic forces, policies, consumers, weather, and natural events beyond my control.
The only law that exists in my world is that every time the market fails to reward me, I need to move back a few steps and leap forward again.