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That was about ten years ago. For a while there, we did pretty good: hovering stable at around 10 employees, mostly custom web projects for advertising agencies. One day we took on a very nice-sounding project for a local manufacturing company. One company-year flowed into the project, we did almost nothing else. At the end, the project was canceled and they wanted their money back because they were on the brink of bankruptcy (a move that despite our contract was OK'ed by German courts).

It all went downhill from there, but I still hung on for a few months. Didn't want to fire anyone. I took out crazy loans to keep this lead balloon afloat, but there was really no turning around. And it pretty much ruined my life.

It's a cautionary tale, really. I should have allowed this company to fail at a time when I still could have walked away without some serious damage. The company was done. It had no product, burned-out employees and no prospects. I wouldn't make that mistake again today. The lesson here being that desperation is never a good sign. When you're doing a startup, what you want is hunger and euphoria. Not desperation.

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