Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Everyone has their own career and personal aspirations particularly founders who are trying to hit a home run but base hits can be a win too.
In 2007, I started spending the majority of my time angel investing. 120 investments later and a few side projects has been an incredible education. I had expectations that every investment would be a win. Of course that was never going to happen but I wanted to believe that I could literally get in there and fix anything.
I am starting to see some of the investments I made pull out of the gate, sell, hit big valuations or die. Data shows that all of those factors were inevitable. Seeing founders spend 24/7 on their businesses is part of the game. I have espoused the importance of not ignoring your personal life to every founder. Go on dates, spend time with friends and family, don’t wait to have children, don’t ignore your personal life.
I had a conversation with a founder this past week who is selling the company. Everyone is getting their cash back and a bit more. Sure they wanted the company to be a huge hit out of the ballpark but it wasn’t meant to be. I said to the founder that it might not have been a huge exit but it is a success. Even if a company dies, it is just a different success.
Starting a company with an idea, building a team, raising capital, and creating something from nothing is a huge success. Very few people can do that. As an investor, I am in the business of risk. Some returns are bigger than others but in my eyes, all founders who were able to get something off the ground even though it might not become the next big thing, is a success and nobody should tell you otherwise. Success can even be found in a loss.