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Ask HN: I can't do this anymore, I need help
166 points by kriptonic on Mar 31, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 132 comments

I've had enough.

Hear me out. I've spent the last 5 years of my life slaving away on startups and new business ideas and I'm failing, bad. So tonight I've come to the conclusion that I clearly have no fucking idea what I'm doing. I've lost pretty much all my friends because of the time I've spent trying to make my ideas work. I have spent money I can't afford on ideas that have never came to light. And now it's 2:31am on a Sunday evening and my girlfriend is in bed wondering why I won't come give her a cuddle, but I can't. Because I know I have to wake up tomorrow morning and hit the repeat button on my life again. I have to work all day just to put a roof over our heads. She wants to travel and damn I want to take her so bad, but I can't. I hate what my life has become.

But I have a solution, because I know complaining won't change this. Truth is, I have no idea about business. That's why I can't do it. I come from a working class family, I have working class friends, no one I know has any idea about business or even any interest in the topic. I've read a lot though: on business, development, management & self help. I can do it, I know I can, I just need some guidance. So here I am; asking for guidance. I have about $5000 and I'm willing to put that into an idea, and I have some of those too. So who's ready to play ball with me? I can guarantee the technical skills, could you guarantee the business skills? Maybe together we won't need to press the repeat button on our alarm clocks next Monday.

Let me know, hnineedhelp [at] gmail.com

Here's the better idea. Get a 9 to 5 six figure job. It will be boring, I know. Life sucks like that sometimes. Most of us have one.

Next, live like a pauper, saving 60-70+% of that income. Spend your free time doing exactly 3 things 1. working on a side project 2. spending time with your girlfriend. 3. exercise (never count this out, no matter what your life circumstances otherwise)

Then just wait 5 more years. You will either have something going from your side project or you will have enough money saved to legitimately work full time on something without worrying about bills

As far as the idea, go for something as boring as possible. Preferably something that someone else is already paying money for but that the incumbent product is shitty or lacking in some major way. Fix it or make it signficantly cheaper. Business is just a wrapper around value.

Create value, get paid. That's how capitalism works.

Exactly this. If you do not have a problem or product you are passionate about, then just work for someone else who is able to generate much better value out of your time.

Read earlyretirementextreme or mrmoneymustache to see how you can get out of the rat race as fast as possible, and get back into doing startups (if that's what is exciting to you)

Perfectly agree with that. And that's exactly what I'm doing so far: working for someone could be useful for improve yourself not only in what you'd like to do: side projects will benefit from this, believe me. I noticed improvements event in terms of analysis of problem solving.

> As far as the idea, go for something as boring as possible. Preferably something that someone else is already paying money for but that the incumbent product is shitty or lacking in some major way. Fix it or make it signficantly cheaper. Business is just a wrapper around value.

I made something boring: https://invoicerunner.com

Nobody wants to use it because most people make boring things. The market of boring things is saturated in most cases.

I feel like I'm back at square 1 personally.

Building a successful business is hard. You don't just "build it and they will come". There is no one-line answer to success.

Nobody's buying it because you're not marketing it.

This "Start managing your invoices today. Take the stress out of tracking what's due, when, and to who" should be at the top of the page. The photo of a woman at a computer does absolutely nothing to explain what you're selling. It was pure curiosity that made me page down enough to figure out what you were selling. Most people who come across the page after googling "invoice management" or the like will just hit the back button.

Typing fast, gotta leave, don't mean to be rude, but that's my feedback.

Thanks for the feedback! It's appreciated. I'm going to remove the woman with the iPad.

Nobody wants to use it? Bullshit! You need to make people want to use it, and show them that you have a great product to sell them. I think this product has a lot of potential and I'm interested in trying it out. I'm going to show my supervisor this later because if this could be adapted for more than just invoices (say; medical forms) then this could be a contender for an automatic routing system we and many other hospitals want to set up.

Wow, thanks for the positive feedback! :)

The one thing that stops me giving up on it is that I use it myself, and find it useful... it's been great for tracking my own invoices. Drop me an email if you'd like to discuss it further: davedx@gmail.com

That huge picture of the woman is a big design miss. Replace it and use the Real Estate to display the features (bulletted)

Thanks for the feedback! You're the second to make that comment. I'll do this.

How many clients do you have? Get out there and spend time with the companies that might want your product. Work with them to add whatever extra features are needed to make it really worthwhile.

Toyota can build the best Corolla but they still need to spend millions every year marketing it so it sells.

None. I had one potential client who I used to build the product, but they decided they need a custom in-house solution that also lets them send invoices as well as managing payables. I've approached several and also chased some leads from my network but had no luck, nobody has even given me feedback.

I should work harder on getting it out there for sure. One challenge is that I think (yes, it's an untested assumption) my customers are probably more retail focused, which means doing some legwork to actually make contact (i.e. offline), something I haven't got time for at the moment.

Any suggestions there would be welcome!

Look's like you really have a tough nut to crack here. This is a really tough area as there is so much competition. Your product doesn't have any "I need this right now." It's also something that you really need to figure out who your ideal client.

It's more like: - I like the ability to view all my invoices anymore but how does it integrate with my QuickBooks, Simply Accounting, etc. - How do I keep my information in sync between my internal system and this? - What else is out there - oh look, here's Freshbooks, seems to be really better product

My recommendation is that you need to get more niche on this. For example, let's say companies are using QuickBooks a lot in your area. Maybe they use your site as another frontend to add and view invoices that get pushed to Quickbooks. You make the process ten times easier.

I'm just throwing out ideas here. The main point is that your problem is that you identified an initial potential need but now you need to go out there and actually figure out what the real value of your solution is for companies. There's maybe that extra 2-3 features that it needs that will make somebody want to use it and buy it. I would highly recommend following Steve Blank's approach. Also, check this out - http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/canvas. The book is also worth reading.

Basically, what it comes down to is that at this point you have a nice MVP that you can show potential customers and say "Hey, what's wrong with this? What else does it need to have for it to be useful to you?"

The job won't necessarily even be boring. It's possible that you'll find a job working with smart people that you can learn useful things from.


Every place I've worked - small or large - has been fun in one way or another, made me some friends, and taught me things I didn't know going in. I even made a few neat things that made people's lives better along the way.

Yeah - I run my own company now. Because it gives me some other things that I value. But the idea that a normal job is always a terrible boring experience really does depend on the job. Not every employer on the planet is an asshat. Working for other people can be fun.

Sadly, as I've got older, I've found that exercise tires me out so that I can not work productively in the entire section of the day which follows. I suppose exercise more gently, or later in the day. Never been much into night exercise though.

You mister should write a book on how to be sane — I see many, many (actually everyone I know) ambitious people being wrecked by this "startup bullshit", believing they have to slave off, skip everything in life, because "success" ;)

Only to find themselves empty-handend

I agree with this, probably because it fits my situation so well. I work a mind numbing pharmacist job, save 85% of my income and am working in side projects. One project is medical software because everything out there is currently very shitty. The savings are invested cash flowing securities. In five years you will have built up decent cash reserves.

Now, you won't necessarily be living like a pauper. Just stop buying stupid shit and buy bare necessities.

Hey CKO, Can you share what you are doing? Also I might have few pharma related questions for you.

What about us who live in developing nations and get paid less than USD1000 per month working as a dev? Saving money is hard over here.

In many developing nations you can save a lot even from a $1k salary. If not, dedicate some time to freelancing, either locally or via elance/odesk. Shoot let's say for $40k per hour and do 2-3 hours per evening of that, plus some time on weekends. 20 hours = $400 per week, $1600 per month additional. Do that for a year and you will have money to live on saved funds for 1,5 years.

Depending on which country you live in, taxes can be a real pain and will only leave you with a small bit of your salary. Not to mention transportation could eat up a lot your otherwise "free time" in the evenings. :(

I do agree that freelancing would definitely give some nice extra income but only if you're disciplined enough to find time for it.

Typically devs earn way more than national average in developing nations though? At least in none-EU Eastern Europe.

Go and work in a developed nation for a couple of years?

This is easier said than done.

Most developed nations have all kinds of barriers and quotas in place to make it difficult for aliens to fill jobs that might otherwise be filled by citizens.

Sometimes the right connections, company sponsorship, etc. can get you in; but if you're imagining just flying to the UK or wherever and getting a job, that's not possible. Even if a company there wants to hire you and is willing to jump through legal hoops it still may not be possible.

You don't have to work in a developed nation to work with developed nation clients.

Try and target yourself to those clients and avoid the local clients like a plague. It has been my experience that if you want to break into more profitable territory you need to break away from local clients completely.

This is great advice and I would say how most companies get started.

It's hard to realize that we're our own little techno bubble when we read HN and about start-up's all the time.

The fact is that most of the software companies that start, that are actually profitable and make money (not hundreds of millions or possibly millions) but enough are just not sexy enough in either their business model or their story to make it on HN or other blogs. Frankly, I think these companies are too busy running their business to get caught up in all of it.

A six-figure job is shooting a bit high (although tbph I have no clue what the average wage is in the Valley or wherever your point of reference comes from), but besides that, this is pretty much what I was going to say.

A stable life and supporting yourself, your mental status and your family or whatever is, imho, more important than trying to live some fairy tale where you build a chat app and get bought out by Facebook.

The startup success stories are all basically lottery winners, probably with similar odds.

> Get a 9 to 5 six figure job.

> Next, live like a pauper, saving 60-70+% of that income.

I had a job in San Francisco with a baseline salary of $90k and total cashlike compensation (stocks / annual bonus) raising it just over $100k. Low end, but that's six figures.

Largest single item on my budget: taxes, at roughly 35% of my pay. Saving 70% of my nominal "income" would have been grossly illegal.

He probably meant 60/70% of that income after taxes.

Still, it's kind of hard. Usually places with six figures jobs tend to have high rents.

I'm nowhere near that figure, and more than a fourth of my monthly net income goes towards paying the rent.

Very well said,

Rules of startup:

1. One should not quit his/her job until you have been funded very well. Once you get funded it means your idea is credible and fund will help you survive.

2. Never spend a penny from your personal savings. Because it's a slippery slope. Today you took $5000 from your savings, tomorrow you will do more.

3. Fail Fast and move on. Quickly build a prototype and showcase your ideas to your customers, have them on board with minimal viable product.

4. Don't spend your resources and time on things which people are not planning on using. Build based on what your customers wants and they are willing to pay you for it.

5. Make daily goals which is toward a main goal.. we have wasted so much time drifting in wrong direction. Keep your goal steady and only focus on that, nothing else.

6. Get some help, You cant do everything on your own.. get co-founders, try them out for 3 weeks before having them on board.

7. Be honest to yourself and communicate very well with your co founders and team mates.

Up-vote this, 1000x.

Exercise changed my life, not long ago. :)

Truly, exercise for Entrepreneurs can't be recommended enough. Before starting my Startup journey in 2006 I was 82-83 kgs (at around 6 feet, its sort of Okay). Went to 88 kgs, and felt bad in 2009. At present I am 80 kgs and feel much better.

My routine:

Runing: 7 kms on Tuesday and Thursday. 10 kms on Saturday.

Strength: Just body weight - push ups and pull ups and crunches - on Monday and Friday

Sprint runs: on Wednesday followed by some strength.

Overall time spend is about 1.5 hours each day (because I don't hurry, and a relaxed stretching session after running)

edit: format

+1 for this. But the bottom line is that; You will be sooo bored in your daily job so you will end up with incredible ideas that you cannot think about with just brainstorming. It is simple fact. I remember when I was in collage, a night before exam, I was creating lots of ides since studying exam is so boring. So work life is similar. If your daily job becomes not satisfactory for you, your brain will sense the emptiness inside and automatically come up with ideas, about work or something else. The caveat is, this is a way of releasing the vision inside you. If you have no vision in deeps of your brain, it is still not bad at all since you will most probably be in a better station. Just remember, only small amount of people believe they got the success that they deserve. Go for big, but not underestimate small, short time happiness.

sound advice but may not fit if the OP was being driven by something other than making money. Also, some people have been doing the side project route for long enough to feel it is not working and they need to devote more time.

i applaud the OP for pushing themselves but also agree that a well paying job is an option they may consider. Better yet, just variate between them. Spend a couple years trying to find collaborators and push projects, then a couple moving slow and steady on the side.

That's ok, there's a whole spectrum of boring/interesting, well-paid/not so well-paid jobs.

pyrrhotech's advice is exactly the one I was going to give.

Work on some side project at the same time.

And you know what? You might even like it, gain some skills and friends at work which will put in get stead for the rest of your life.

The genius artist in an attic is a seductive myth.

Don't work on the side project. Do _nothing_ .... go live life. Build skills, think, create, but don't work on an exit, how Christian.

Sounds like he is building skills, thinking, and living life to me. He is failing at his current endeavor, but that is fine. Failure is good, builds character.

Failure is excellent, wish I failed in bigger ways as a child, it gets more expensive as you age. Continuing to work on side projects is a still a sure way to burnout. Side projects of pure personal enrichment (exercise, art, etc) are what repower a person for greatness.

I am glad people like Wozniak chose to work on side projects.

We are discussing side projects in the context of taking a 9-5 job because of constant startup burnout from grinding. I am not arguing against side projects. Your comment was a cheap shot, offtopic strawman, who is going to disagree with your statement? No one.

Heh... +1 for this one.

Agree with all of this but a "six figure job". I work in a developed nation and I'm not even close to that!

Depends on where you live, I guess. I imagine you could get yourself a 5-figure tech job and still save a lot if you live in a place where the cost of living is lower than somewhere like Silicon Valley.

This advice is true gold! 100% agree with it.

don't know if you thought deeply when writing your last line. did you ever consider to read some marx?

does "exercise" means physical? running etc?

yes. This has a well known positive effect on mood, psychic energy and morale. Of course one should not over do it. As anything, in excess it can harm.

You're trying to force it. That's not going to work.

Stop. Get a job. A job that you like.

Then just be good at it. Better yet, be the best at it, and make sure it is something you are passionate about and talented in.

It really is that simple.

Nobody wants to invest in somebody with a bunch of failed entrepreneurial ventures. But if you sit back, take a check, work on cool shit and build an impressive body of work, well then perhaps people will be more willing to invest in you.

And for god's sake, go bang your girlfriend and give her a massage.

>Nobody wants to invest in somebody with a bunch of failed entrepreneurial ventures. But if you sit back, take a check, work on cool shit and build an impressive body of work, well then perhaps people will be more willing to invest in you.

Exactly. If your ideas aren't working right now, why not work on some other guy's?

I can see that you're willing to let someone else handle all the business side. So why not not join some start up that you believe in, and provide your tech skills to help realize their dream. In the mean time you can learn how they did the business side. This will also alleviate you from your financial troubles (though do you really have them? considering your $5000...)

And then some time in the future, someone will provide their business skills to help realize your dream.

Either way, it's time to get a job.

> go bang your girlfriend and give her a massage.

Yep, she deserves that for sticking with you through all this.

That is so on the money!

Like everything in life - just because it appears simple, doesn't mean it is easy...

...and then go bang your partner again. They're either missing you or about to break up with you.

Gentle advice: Make love to your partner, bang them later when you've got the relationship back to an optimal state.

the wisdom is strong in this post

You sir, deserve my upvote for making me laugh on HN.

This is a bad comment for Hacker News. We want to optimize for signal/noise ratio. It's good to laugh, and to upvote; reporting that one laughed, and upvoted, not so much.

Not to derail this anymore but:

I've often wondered about that, I know that in reddit and even slashdot these type of comments are lauded even though they add nothing to the dialog people like them, because well, they do do give us another comment to upvote, because you can add one point to the original comment. Still they deal with all that extra chaff by physically minimizing comments that don't get enough likes thus they don't interrupt the flow of conversation as much. HN doesn't have such a feature so I understand why, you're against it, I personally only downvote these type of comments if the user has a history and the comment is >2 words.

I'm super concerned for your well being and I don't even know you. What screams to me is that the last thing you should do is to try to do anything like start a business. It does not matter if you follow the best advice, and even do everything that you had done wrong right going forward. When you say things like "I hate what my life has become," then just stop what you're doing for a while.

Really. . . just stop.

Now, I know this will be hard to do. You've probably defined yourself as something different than your peers, and your peers (although not doing start-ups/tech etc) probably admire you. Hell, even your girlfriend lying in bed alone is probably saying that you're a mad genius and that's why your on your computer. Anyways, still even with the social pressure to go on, I suggest you just stop.

Spend the rest of the year focusing of feeling better not doing better. Grab some books, take that trip, and just give yourself a break. I'm not one to suggest self-help books but Stephen Covey has this excellent metaphor in 7 Habits about keeping the saw sharp. The saw is you. Right now it seems like the blade is pretty dull from excessive work. So stop and reread what you posted hear and see how you have described what you have lost.

Grab beers with your friends. Spend time with your gf. Save that 5K because 5k is far better than 0k. And on a side note, any person who e-mails you saying that they want to work with you, given how you have expressed your current state, should stop too.

* I've lost pretty much all my friends because of the time I've spent trying to make my ideas work.

I suspect that work has nothing to do with this, more likely the negativity and the real reason why you're so obsessed with work. I think work is your crutch, not your problem.

* And now it's 2:31am on a Sunday evening and my girlfriend is in bed wondering why I won't come give her a cuddle, but I can't.

Most people are asleep then, that, by no stretch of the imagination is "evening".

You need to stop whining and get a job. Learn how to be a person, relate to your girlfriend, balance your interests, sort your shit out. Whining to the hn crowd is not the way to sort your life out, you need to stop looking to others to sort things out for you.

No business person with any chops is going to read this and want to go into business with you. You can't sleep, you can't keep your end up in a relationship with your girlfriend, you've been working five years and have only $5k to show for it, you've admitted to failing at everything!

I think you're being a little unfair to kriptonic here, and perhaps being a little confused about causation. You're assuming he's failing because he's a negative person. I would say it's much more likely his negativity is a result of being burned out from too much work and not enough sleep.

Burnout is a good thing. Your body is basically telling you that you are working too hard at something that is not achieving results, and it's time for a change.

kriptonic: I would recommend leaving your side projects on the back-burner for a while. Just work on your day-job, and catch up on your sleep and maybe take a vacation. Once you've taken a break, start thinking about your projects and you might come up with a new direction.

Just because you think your idea is good doesn't mean it will be successful. It also doesn't necessarily have much to do with being good at business. You just need to come up with something that other people want to use.


You make a lot of assumptions about me.

I'm not trying to whine, I saw a problem and I'm asking for help fixing that problem in return for my time and money. Also, I have a job.

Me and my girlfriend have a great relationship and I do everything I can to make sure she's happy.

I have a lot more than $5000 to show for it. That's is just what I have for a side project.

I don't fail at everything. I'm only 23, and I think I've achieved quite a lot for my age. I wouldn't say all of my ideas have failed, but I aim high and I feel like I'm failing overall.

> I do everything I can to make sure she's happy.

What do you do to make sure you're happy? No one wants to hang around with, invest in or buy something from someone who isn't happy.

Find yourself first. Everything else will fall into place. I'm not saying you need to break it off, but put yourself on equal ground and see what happens. You'll learn a lot about yourself and her.

Personal stuff aside, heed the advice of so many others: Get a job, be great at it. Take every opportunity to learn and think of new ideas, new ways to create value and grow.

"I do everything I can to make sure she's happy."

That's the wrong way around. Do everything to make sure you are happy, with or without her. It's up to her if she wants to be happy with you.

What you want is an equilibrium situation where both are happy.

Wow, maybe if you're in it for the short term, but if you want a long term relationship or marriage, that "make, sure I'm happy" mantra sure ain't going to work.

Imagine if we had that attitude with our children? Or mother?

If you're not happy, whatever you do, your unhappiness will be contagious, and people close to you will catch it too. Have you ever talked to someone unhappy pretending everything is fine, and how comfortable were you in talking about happy topics about you to said person, and were you tempted to ask the other person what's bothering them?


Therefore, for others to be happy, you must be happy first. You cannot rely on other's happiness to lift you up and IMHO you should not let your own unhappiness fester and drag everyone around you down.

Imagine a child, whose parents come home in a bad mood everyday, though they do everything to make the child happy except changing their own mood, will the child grow up as a well-rounded individual?

Eh, your above comment was still pretty misguided:

> That's the wrong way around. Do everything to make sure you are happy, with or without her. It's up to her if she wants to be happy with you.

...though you're pulling in the right direction here.

It's not either/or; you & your partner have to take care of yourselves, in the context of taking care of your entire family unit. I've been married for 14 years and have 2 kids. If I ignore the balance and either forget to suss out (and attend to) the needs of my partner & kids, or if I try to "do what they want" with no attention to my own needs, it goes poorly for us all. My wife has to do the same thing.

There's work and short-term sacrifice involved; sometimes I do things I wouldn't do, on my own, because I have longer-term goals in mind that rely on my relationships w/ wife & daughters.

But the same applies to us all, and this is something we discuss with our kids all the time -- e.g., "sure, I could clean up all this stuff myself, but I'm probably going to be cranky about it, and we'll have less time to read together this afternoon...".

The truth is that overwhelming majority of businesses fail. Entrepreneurs are not usually excited to brag about their failures publicly so we mostly see the hopeful beginning of all these ventures and not the sad, quiet ending. Though you do get occasional post-mortem stories here on HN (which I think are nice for balance) it is easy to forget about those and get a false impression that you are failing and everybody else is constantly succeeding. If you measure your own experiences against it you can wind up feeling stressed and depressed.

If you do think that the entrepreneurial spirit is something that is burning inside you, and not just peer pressure (of sorts) then I would say, just keep dreaming, keep working and don't dwell on failed projects. Find a personal itch that you would like to scratch. Good luck to you!

Man, the HN crowd is always rough but I agree with the whole "look for a job" advice. Maybe just for a little while; it's not that bad, haha. You're only 23 so you have a lot of time to figure things out. Plus, you'll learn a lot from mentors there too.

Hope it works out for you :)

It would help to know why you're failing.

- Do your project ideas never get finished?

- If not, is it because of technical issues that make it difficult to get your product working?

- If not, is it because you lose interest or the people you work with lose interest?

- If not, is it because there are non-technical factors outside your control that you cannot successfully deal with (e.g. licensing agreements)?

- Do your startups not get traction in the marketplace?

- If so, is it because you're trying to unsuccessfully compete with a larger player in the field?

- If so, is it because you're not waiting long enough, or your expectations are too high?

- If so, is it because you've tried the standard promotional channels and nobody is paying attention?

- If so, is it because the market has shifted in the period between inception and release in such a way your product is now redundant or obsolete?

- Are your projects torpedoed by issues related to the people you are working with, if any?

- Are your projects torpedoed by the fact that you run out of living expense money before they have a chance to catch on?

Although all startups face some similar base set of failure modes, the challenges facing (e.g.) a robotics startup can be very different from those facing a consumer web-services startup trying to build the next Instagram.

I like this post -- it's like an _anatomy of a failed run_.

If I may, to split your into groups:

Things you don't finish: > - Do your project ideas never get finished? > - If not, is it because of technical issues that make it difficult to get your product working? > - If not, is it because you lose interest or the people you work with lose interest? > - If not, is it because there are non-technical factors outside your control that you cannot successfully deal with (e.g. licensing agreements)?

Ideas that fail because no one else is interested: > - If so, is it because you've tried the standard promotional channels and nobody is paying attention? > - If so, is it because the market has shifted in the period between inception and release in such a way your product is now redundant or obsolete?

Ideas that launch, but fail because of money/scaling issues: > - Do your startups not get traction in the marketplace? > - If so, is it because you're trying to unsuccessfully compete with a larger player in the field? > - If so, is it because you're not waiting long enough, or your expectations are too high? > - Are your projects torpedoed by the fact that you run out of living expense money before they have a chance to catch on?

Reasons that fail primarily due to interpersonal/stress reasons: > - Are your projects torpedoed by issues related to the people you are working with, if any?

I have a bunch of feedback to this.

1. You have to support yourself before you can do other things. If that means getting standard employment, that is what you have to do.

2. Being from a working class family is no obstacle. You can do some work on the side (make sure you check your employment contracts, make sure no conflict of interest, and if necessary discuss with your employer). But avoid living in the machine. Get out, spend time with friends. Maintain social relationships. Those are important, and nevermoreso when you are in business for yourself.

3. Go to garage sales. Pick up used accounting textbooks. Learn enough accounting that you can keep your own books. Accounting is the language of business, and it is one thing you have to have at least a basic grasp of if you are to get back into business for yourself.

4. If you still have time, get involved in Toastmasters, to develop public speaking ability.

5. Surround yourself with people who will support you when you start something but challenge you before you do. This is vitally important because you want a clear view of the problems before you begin but you also want people who will help you overcome problems rather than drag you down to them.

6. You don't have to know everything yourself. You need to know people who can help with things.

Below are some stats regarding starting your own business in perspective. [1]

Starting a business is hard and takes a long time. It also takes a fair amount of luck.

May I suggest, next time you have a business idea, you pitch it to as many successful business people you can find. They don't have to be VC's or Angel investors. Pick any successful business owner in your community.

Ask them for their honest opinion. If they say they like it, see if they would "put their money with their mouth is" and would invest in your idea.

In the mean time, do as others have suggested: get a good paying job and start saving as much as you can. You are going to need much more than $5,000 to pay for living and business expenses when you go all in on your next venture.

[1] http://www.statisticbrain.com/startup-failure-by-industry/


I'm a bit confused. You've spent the last 5 years on your own start-ups? Or working on other people's ideas?

If you've got the technical skills, why is the $5000 so important. I'm sure you've read about being 'lean', why do your start-up ideas require such a cost input, if you already have the technical skills.

Where in the world are you? Technical skills seem more in demand than business skills, but you also say that the people you know, know nothing about business, so I suspect you aren't in one of the technology hubs.

I'll bet that if you look around in your community, you will find business leaders. They may not be running multi-million dollar ventures, or start-ups, but they know the basics of business. See if one of these people can help you flush out your ideas. You'll probably find somebody willing to do it for free. Maybe they'll even want to invest in you (later) if they see you getting the job done and believe in your business.

Don't go blowing your $5k, but make sure you are doing what will make both you and your GF happy. A vacation doesn't have to cost a ton, you can get creative and have an amazing experience.

I have been where you are. If you have $5K then you are doing well. It may sound insane but here is what you should do:

1: what's something that your girlfriend wants/needs? A bike, a computer, how about a silver necklace. Go buy it for her and give it to here. It should cost you about $1,000

2: When you give it to her, tell her you are taking her on a holiday. You are paying. Spend the $4K on the holiday.

3: Do steps one and two NOW. Get up from your chair and do it now.

After this, you will have a very happy partner who will love you more because you put your relationship ahead of stupid business.

Alternatively you could spend your last $5,000 on one of your ideas or you could spend your $5K on someone elses idea. In either case the idea probably won't work, and even if it is a good idea it does not need your $5K. Your money will be gone. You will never have invested any substantial money into yourself/your girlfriend/your relationship which will fall apart because it's no fun and there's always money pressure and you are always stressed because you never have a holiday and are always working. You'll be in exactly the same position you would have been if you'd spent the $5K on her.

In the meantime, pursue your personal business ambitions as a hobby and stop gambling everything you have on it.


Thanks for the advise and you're right, but this isn't my usual nightly routine. I took her out this weekend, like I do most weekends and I'm taking her away to Germany this summer - she wanted to go ever since I've known her. I'm not the perfect boyfriend, but I really do love my girlfriend and I do everything I can for her. Mine and her happiness comes first, period. The only reason I'm up tonight is because I wish I could give her more.

It sounds like her expectations are way too high, and it's taking a toll on you. Is she your girlfriend, or your wife? It might be a good idea to think long and hard about that.

Better idea. Give up on some fake dream, put in the hours now at your job. Give your girlfriend the attention she deserves or do her a favor and get away from her. Find your own mental stability, and go from there. You'll feel a hell of a lot better.

At 23 I was still at Uni, a nerd failing at all non-nerdy subjects, no girlfriend, no money, no car. I had hardly any ambitions and failure was the norm I set for myself. But I was pretty happy nonetheless.

Don't let all the hype get to you. Life is not about building Instagrams or WhatsApps, you might as well play the lottery.

So say you can't do it and then you can... sounds like you just have a pre-life crisis.

Set yourself up for a tiny win, like, try and run 10km, or get a first-aid diploma. Fist pump, you're not a failure. Then set your next target. Enrol for uni, flip some burgers. Life is the same for everybody, by the way.

The problem is, you are pretty smart; the nice thing for dumb people is that it's easier for them to be happy but you'll get there, too.

Get some treez and stay blazed for a few daze to decompress, then get back to your grind. Build a product. It doesn't have to be software.

I'll give you the keys to the kingdom..

start selling webinars... paint yourself as someone who is qualified to teach WHATEVER and get people to join a free 1 hour webinar where you're going to teach them whatever.. give them a taste and then upsell them on a package of additional 2 hour long webinars. $200 package.

Start advertising your free webinars via social paid distribution channels. Once you tweak it perfectly and build up some experience you'll be able to spend a certain amount on advertising to acquire enough customers to fully book your webinars each week.

20 people per webinar shelling out $200/each.. doing it again every week with a new batch of people.. every time you do it you build up a video archive that you can to build a non-webinar based video product down the road...

People feel good about spending $$ on webinars because they can get personalized education not just a pre-packaged info-product.. all you need is a niche people care about and some life experience that you can market as being valuable.

This one 35 year old lady is selling webinars for $400 to teach people how to "leverage instagram to better market your business". That's just one example.. she didn't even have any material written down when she started selling her first webinar she just kind of learned as she went along. She's doing well because her product is about teaching small business owners how to make more money. You want your info-product to appeal to people who already have money to spend.

good luck

Here's my 2 Cents...

First of all, DO NOT quit your job unless your new business is making money. You know what's worse than working a job you hate? Not having any money at all.

Secondly, stop trying to start the process with an idea. The best way to come up with a solid business idea is to pick a market (preferably one you know something about) and learn as much as you can about it. Observe what people are saying. Write down what people are complaining about. Get to know them inside and out. Once you've done the market research, THEN brainstorm ideas based on that research. Start small. Build a landing page with an email submit and shop the link around to your market. If they bite (which they should if you did your research properly), then work on building out the product.

All that work should cost you nothing more than time and hosting/design. Save that $5000 for when you'll really need it—after your product has been validated and you have interest/pre-orders.

Good luck!!

Sorry to hear about your situation. For what it's worth, my advice:

Stop trying to build a startup. Build a business instead. A bootstrapped, makes cash today business. Maybe it's a consultancy specializing in bank software or maybe it's something else that you have expertise in, but stop trying to build an all or nothing startup.

Here is some short and sharp advice for you:

Quit this startup crap

Get a job at a large consulting firm e.g. Accenture (you will get to work with smart and highly motivated people)

Spend time working on big enterprise projects getting paid well.

You will soon see all the complex problems that enterprises have to deal with on a daily basis. This will fuel your next startup idea.

Fix a pain point for one of your big consultancy clients and base your startup around that, you'll have a network of smart people and a market that's in need of your solution.

I've spent a few years working for a large consultancy, I've worked with mega ambitious and smart people on massive projects that I would have never seen otherwise. I've learnt so much about tech and business that I'm now ready to break out on my own and I have a massive network and a huge amount of savings to do it.

Also, don't think your life has to revolve around startups. Great careers are just as exciting.

I don't know whether this is going to be useful to you or not, but I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and your situation is weirdly a situation I desire to be in and a situation I'm trying to avoid.

I want to avoid your situation, because of the large variance and unhealthy unsustainability that accompanies the startup lifestyle.

I desire your situation, because working on new products and ideas is my (currently) most ideal working arrangement, I value being in charge and be flexible.

So for me the solution I have thought about and try to implement in the next couple months is to do a split:

X% involves "mercenary labor", freelancing/remote work Y% involves working on my on side projects Z% do other awesome things

Minimize X with the restraint of providing enough sustainable income and maximize Z% with continious estimation of whether Y can actually make some money realistically.

Would love any feedback

Alas, and contrary to what others are saying, being from a working class background is an obstacle. If you would have had a legacy admission to Harvard (which you could have then most hip-ly dropped out of) and had a bunch of frat brothers with VC dads, it would have been a different story and everybody here knows it.

Escaping from the working class is a matter of luck, not hard work, and that's a brute fact of reality. So don't beat yourself up about it, its not your fault.

Whether you want to keep rolling the dice is up to you. Eventually, you would figure it out if you keep trying. And eventually you would flip 4 heads in a row if you keep trying. But it might take decades, literally decades.

Escaping from the working class is a matter of luck, not hard work, and that's a brute fact of reality.


It may be harder, but it's certainly not about luck. I went to a shitty state school (not even the flagship) in Arkansas. While I was a "frat boy" unless I'm interested in managing a cracker barrel they are of little help.

Instead I worked my ass off to develop meaningful skills. Then I intentionally found work with incredibly smart people who could help me. It may have taken me longer to reach my goals than someone with a Ivy League pedigree I was absolutely able to do it. No luck involved.

I absolutely believe that anyone else can do the same. I see it every single day.

How were your parents in encouraging you?

Were you surrounded by an environment where the prevailing attitude was "I never needed that skill, I do not see why you do"?

Luck determines whether your parents want you to drop out of school at 16 and join them in the factory, or have you reading by the age of 3.

Success in anything is rarely just about luck.

2 thoughts:

1) Try being more specific - http://lesswrong.com/lw/bc3/sotw_be_specific/. Perhaps you've been failing because you've been building things people don't really want? If so, being more specific will help.

2) Perhaps it isn't worth "slaving away" on startups. I believe that the 80/20 rule is very powerful, and is applicable to startups: a small amount of the work leads to a majority of the success. Maybe you could live a less stressful life, and still work on startups.

If you ever want to brainstorm any startup ideas before pursuing them, HMU - azerner3@gmail.com.

Your girlfriend should care much more about your mental health than travel. Have you tried talking to her about what you're feeling?

I often hear people say: Get a 9 to 5 job... But a job probably will not teach you much about business.

I have a different advice that will give you two important lessons at the same time:

"Sell something, as soon as possible."

If you have a product that you can build quickly. Build it and sell it, ASAP.

If you don't have a product... Good. Use the money you have and buy some product that you can sell for more... Repeat it.

Sales is the quickest way to make money and consequently will teach you about business.

PS: At this point it is preferable to find cheap products, so you can buy <-> sell quickly, until you have a good sum of money... then, you'll be able to elaborate the perfect product/business you have in mind.

2 counterpoints: 1) Lack of liquidity in "selling products". 2) Personal cash flow issues.

Selling software doesn't have either of these issues.

1) Who are you selling it to? Can you find a buyer instantly? 2) Buying a product or whatever with the aim of selling/flipping it means your money is tied up in your product.

Hi kriptonic,

I've got about 5 years on you age-wise. I currently run the Dallas Ruby user group. The biggest two pieces of advice I can give you are:

1) Stop stressing out over finding the next big startup idea. You're young and have plenty of time to find the problems that you can solve in exchange for money. Keep training your eye to find them and explore them. Read the bits about finding out if the market is viable, testing quick-and-dirty prototypes, etc etc. You have plenty of time. If you have a group of people you can ping ideas off of, do so. If not, my email is in my profile and I'm happy to be a confidential idea discusser. If it takes two years to find the next good idea, it should be more motivating and exciting than spending two years writing products nobody wants.

2) Get promoted. It sounds like you have a lot of skills but aren't making enough in your day job. Figure out what it takes, like moving or improving an essential skill or two. Maybe find a different language that pays better and then work on that for 6 months or a year and then switch your day job to that. This will expose you to more industries, which will gain you knowledge of other people's problems in their industries, as well as gain you vacation monies. If you save, you should be able take a year off when you're feeling super confident about your next startup.

I'm also emailing this to you, but I wanted to post here for others too. (Others: feel free to email me... it's in my profile.)

I guess it’s not about Business class or working class. Sometime people get overwhelmed by an idea, and this idea has its inception from what other people are doing. This makes you look what you are doing is not good. Business, Job, Status, Money etc. it’s all work and just a small part of life (Life has many more aspect). If something does not work for you, then let it go. Start new, which bring backs balance to your life. By starting new I mean not only work, if your work does not bring money then switch (there is no shame); if your current job gives you a lot money but now time to spend with your loved you are still doing a stupid thing; if your individualist character don't let you pursue grouping (family/relation), bring a change in you (how much you devote to life that relation)... It’s all about balance. When you are standing at such a point in life, people can just give you advice; it’s just YOU who can help YOURSELF. No work is big or small, real status is being a good person…..etc.…

So my friend, let it go, start with something which will --> work for you <-- and which will get you what ever really matter for you (your Girlfriend, time, family). It's your time which is getting consumed and time is the most precious thing.

It’s my recent realization after I feel in love (with my family, a girl, and me :D )!!!

Balance is the keyword!!I guess :)

Sorry dude for being brutal, but your life attitude just... sucks :( What about skipping the startup fever alltogether or getting a real job with constant income and not the "you get this _generous_ equity package" (it's never generous, it's never worth it to be honest, it's always better to have a hard cash on your salary account). Like pyrrhotech proposed, get a job, save some cash and spend 1-2 hours a day max on a side project. That's the only sane way.

You've got the right idea, sooner than I did. As developers we have the capability to create amazing products. Unfortunately an amazing product isn't even remotely close to all you need. Ideally good products would bubble to the surface and people would just use them because they're better products but this is not what happens.

You need the business side of the startup handled for you. It's a huge task, maybe as big as developing the product you are working on. They need to be seducing clients, making phone calls, betting on marketing strategies, setting up events to showcase what you have, and on and on and on.

It's the same reason a big budget movie gets millions of dollars spent just on marketing. Because people don't go to see good movies. They go to see what they've seen before, what they know, or what is marketed to their face all day every day for weeks.

Especially in tech. Facebook is still going strong because it is what people know how to use. Lots of people don't browse for new software unless what they have either stops working or disappears. If you've been doing this for a long time maybe getting a secured salary for a little while is the boost you need. Before you jump back onto startups, but when you do, definitely get this business minded person that you are looking for.


Please forgive me if the content of my message is already in others.

Maybe I could have written your message, a couple year ago. I am not succeeding now to our hacker/entrepreneur/whatever startuper's standards, I am just cooler about it.

First point, you may have talent, you may work hard, and you may just miss the point. Don't ruin your days, enjoy what you are doing. The point of life is not money or fame, or other form of success ; it's happiness. You may work hard on a smart idea and fail, luck is in the game too, admit it. Work, skills and being smart are playing, but luck still be here.

I have read that Rovio's last try was called Angry Birds, I don't think they radically changed something.

One of the biggest benefits I have in my life wasn't a book, it was two weeks break from any internet access, and phone. I had my computer though. You are in the middle of a battle in everyday life, the Braveheart like. Have a break, see the big picture. Do not hit the repeat button by habit, habits are bad when they are here for intellectual comfort. Use your brain, question what you do and how you do it. Have breaks, breaks are important for those things.

Take care of your family, friends and girlfriend. They are invaluable, they may be the source of that little luck you need, they are a good point of reference. Don't become that jerk that place eveything behind his work!

Don't be ashamed to come for a working class environment, you may know more about life and business than those spoiled children we see everywhere.

Please, give your life a higher priority! This means spend time with your girlfriend, with other people and enjoy life in general: outdoor activities, creative activities, entertainment, readings and so on. I think nobody can be successfull in work (9-5 job, startups and other forms of jobs) if he is not happy with his life.

And it seems to me that you are not so satisfied.

So first of all change priority: satisfying life first then business.

Obviously work is an important part of our life because it takes lot of our time and because it is very important in self realization. But it is not the most important part of life so you cannot allow it to overcome everything.

So if you want to balance high motivations job and good revenue, start freelancing (even if you live in a so strange country like italy!): it is not standard 9-5 job (but please don't let it become 7-11 job!) so it is more motivating (at least for me it is because you are always facing new challenges) and it pays good and have your side projects grow in a susteinable way.

I think i know what you are feeling...years ago i felt something similar...it is not easy to accept for people with "fire in the veins", but you must put serenity and order in your life priorities! Enjoy! Then start-it-up!

Wish you best luck!

Just get a damn job that pays well. Relax, work 9-5 and earn pretty darn good money.

Accept that you will not be the next Mark Zuckerberg because 99.99999% of everyone will not.

I just read through it all and realized you're just 23! I don't think you should be so hard on yourself. I thought you were like 40 and lost with no hope. But at 23? Come on.... Just get yourself a simple job for a bit. Take a break. What do you have to lose? Once you sound a little less burned out, you can give startups a shot again. Have some patience, and please enjoy your journey; you only get to do it once.

I had the same reaction as you and I did a search for 23 in this thread and nobody else is talking about this. Has Zuckerberg really skewed a generation. The odds of you making it big at the age is insanely low.

Taking 7 years to get good at something is actually a smart thing to do. The best thing to do is always look for a room where you are not the smartest so you can learn and when you can't find anymore rooms, you'll know it's your time.

First, make a calendar invite for yourself and your girlfriend. Call it "kriptonic career and family budget meeting." Make the event for an hour, next weekend. Send her an invite too.

Then go to bed and cuddle. Immediately.

In the morning, on the way to work, start to think about how you could reframe your plans on a twenty year scale, optimizing for happiness at home.

You don't need more ideas, you've had plenty of those. You need to learn how to get a customer and solve their problems.

Money is abundant if you are solving people's problems so you need to start doing that. Read lean startup as well but most importantly start talking to potential customers every single day and STOP generating ideas, lets customers do that.

Watch this video to see why an idea is worthless http://thefoundation.com/

If you want to take your GF travelling then do it. Sounds like you need the break as well. Read http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/ and leave next month, get a job overseas, do freelancing etc. Stop worrying about money and live.

The job route is also good but only if it will be directly teaching you skills that will further your goals, if your not learning then don't waste time on it.

I've been in the same boat also. After my first start-up tanked, I was kind of lost and didn't know what to do. I ended up working for a consulting firm doing software. Unexpectedly, I picked up a lot of soft skill sets in selling and communication along the way. I eventually quit that consulting firm where now I am doing my second start-up which is doing much better than the first.

I think when a start-up fails, there is the pressure to immediately continue and try to force a situation for something to work. But what I'd suggest is to go with the flow, and perhaps first restore your capital cushions with a full time job.

Try to pick a full time job that can hone your software skill sets, but also allow you to learn some soft skills. As you get back into the groove of not worrying so much, that start-up itch will come back. But at that time you will be in a much better place hopefully~

> I can guarantee the technical skills

What are your technical qualifications?

Thanks for asking.

I work as a web developer. I have been building eCommerce sites since I was 15~, I'm 23 now! I can do frond-end and back-end development, although I think I'm better at back-end development. I have good experience with HTML/CSS/Javascript, PHP/MySql, Java & Node.js. I also have some experience in building AI systems using ANNs, GAs, etc.

Congratulations, you figured it out.

You don't know anything.

Come on man—you're 23! how many real problems have you even encountered in your life? Let me rephrase that in a way that sounds less dismissive of any personal problems you may have in your life (which are important but not the basis of a startup)—how many problems have you encountered in your life that could be solved by technology or automation that are also shared by people with money who are willing to pay for them?

Get a job that pays well. If you can get a job that pays you well enough to save a little something AND lets you work part-time, that's even better. Take the extra time to work on your ideas, work on learning a new language, read up on things you know nothing about. Because THAT'S where successful startups play. Until you get out and see the world around you, you're not going to see problems you can solve. Its the biggest mistake I made in my 20's, and the biggest mistake I see most people your age making. Work at a crappy job for awhile, learn an industry that has a lot of sucky parts to it, and figure out how to make them better.

Also, FWIW (and something I wish I'd figured out a lot sooner)—most of your friends probably don't share your values, so find some that do, and things like paying your rent and going on vacation to Germany with your girlfriend is as much her responsibility as it is yours. Don't be that guy.

Email's in my profile, feel free to contact me for lots of cranky-old-guy advice.

Your advice really resonated with me aswell, thanks for sharing your wisdom.

Do you mind if I ask where you're located? These sort of skills are definitely in demand in plenty of early stage startups that have a toehold, but not a solid position, in a business environment. I'm shooting from the hip based on other responses you've mentioned so far, but it sounds like you've never really had a "real job", where you're putting your skills to work for someone else. Would it be so crazy to suggest you try working for someone else's startup before going off all on your own? That takes a lot of the pressure off of you to have all of the big ideas, but still allows you to work on plenty of interesting problems and see how a business is built.

It sounds to me like you've got plenty of technical experience and might need a little more of the business side of things - how to show the things you've built are valuable. I'm in Cambridge, MA, and I can say with certainty that there are plenty of software shops around here that would claw over each other to get to someone with your skillset.

I'm the least experienced entrepreneur on this website, but if it's help of that sort you need, you've definitely come to the right place.

so you build ecommerce sites for yourself or others? how much do you know about marketing them?


Both. I learnt to program at 15 when I taught myself PHP to set up an eCommerce site that could automatically create new voice server instances when a user placed an order. I guess you could say that was my first startup.

Since then I've worked with a few different companies on eCommerce sites doing a bit of everything including marketing. I have quite a lot of experience with SEO, pay-per-click and social media marketing. One of my failed startups was a social media marketing startup.

pick up java, ATG/hybris -- or demandware might be closer -- join a professional services workforce, have them pay for your certifications etc

I have to work all day just to put a roof over our heads. She wants to travel and damn I want to take her so bad, but I can't. I hate what my life has become.

Why don't you try freelancing? You can make money, travel with your girlfriend, and work on your own projects in between gigs.

I think you need to slow down. Don't be in a hurry to have some breakthrough moment where you suddenly get success. I've been through this phase, where I constantly feel "if only I had X", maybe things will change. In your case, the X is a "business partner".

This kind of sudden change mostly only happens in movies.

Like others have suggested, the number 1 thing I'd do is make some money. Get a job, do consulting, whatever's easy with your existing skills. Just fill up that bank account. It will do wonders for your sanity and self-esteem. And restore some stability and happiness in your relationship.

When you feel a bit chilled out, then try getting a business going again. Right now, you're too stressed and burnt out to think straight.

I agree with most of the other replies here, but also:

consider (1) seeing a therapist and (2) reading the Tao Te Ching.

If you're so stressed out about your work that you can't lead a joyful life, and you can't even give your girlfriend the attention she deserves for believing in you – this is the most important thing in the world – then this could be a personal issue and in that case I would recommend seeking a professional outside perspective to help you sort it out.

I recommend working at other startups to get a sense on how people can properly execute ideas. You will also broaden your friend network and make friends with more startup minded people. This will assist you in your own endeavors.l Your problem is you have no one to talk to about business and no real connections. The most successful startups were people working in that culture, branching off, taking a few people with them and starting something great.

Man, you seriously need a break. 5years is long term. I have been part of startup from past 2 years and i am like totally burn out due to excessive amount of work.

For you is better to find a job that you love to do, earn some money and get your life back, go get your girl friend to some trip.

After 2-3 years you may again thought of startup, at that point of time you have more knowledge and experience.

Do a small business management course, they teach good stuff like market researching an idea before you overcommit to it, and doing cashflow forecasts.

I had some brilliant ideas, (and they still are), but after doing a business forecast on them, they're not good for business. I'm guessing you may be in the same boat.

To make your brilliant idea work, you need a business head and luck.

Good luck.

Be mindful, be grateful, and fail forward.

By that, I mean to take a step back and give yourself a 'big picture' view of the world around you to gain some perspective. Some call it meditation; some call it getting some fresh air. You're 23; you need to learn that being an entrepreneur is a marathon (not a sprint) before it kills you—and it will.

Learn to create the time for yourself—to switch off. Your logical mind needs down time to compartmentalize your ideas and arrive at that 'aha!' moment; you can't always be "on." Your body needs to strengthen (work out) and rest (proper sleep). Your social mind needs time to take in the world and discover joy. I can't emphasize the idea of "creating" time enough. It won't fall into your lap. You have to make it.

Then look at how far you've brought yourself to this point and appreciate it. Don't compare yourself to anyone else, just to the person you were yesterday. Appreciate and get inspiration from the little things. Show people you are grateful; hug them, buy them coffee, do them a favor. These acts will make you happier than money or material wealth.

Consider taking a job where your talents help make a team stronger. It's important to be challenged in your area of expertise, but it's more important to take a notepad and to observe your colleagues and learn what makes them good at what they do, because they have the skills that can help your future business(es). Learn what to do and what not to do. It's not about the money, it's about the process.

When you screw up and get yelled at or feel embarrassed, that's a good thing. It's another experience under your belt; another data point to reference. When you don't get yelled at or feel embarrassed, that's very bad; it means no one cares to push you forward—including yourself. Always find something to improve and when you fail, fail forward.

As for your business, it takes $0 to validate an idea. Find three customers to pay for your product or service before building it (just a rule of thumb). You can do this while holding a full-time job. Don't build something you think people want; build something you know they want. As PG says, do things that don't scale. That's how you learn what your customers want. When you run out of time in the day to keep up with the unscalable work, considering what "big wins" will help free your time up to do more unscalable work.

the only thing i want to say is, why rush? why do you sound stressed?

the majority of successful people start doing big things after 35 years old when you have the experience and network, you still have 12 years to get there. Take baby steps, and you will succeed.

I'm 23 years old as well, working at a dev house as software engineer. Just keep going and take it easy bro.

You have the technical skills, don't push to startup. I had say things work better when you get a 9-5 job and learn the field you are in, and once you know enough about the domain you are working in, you can startup in the same. We rarely here of vague startup ideas without domain knowledge succeeding.

Just wanted to say that this thread has made me want to read and participate in HN more often. Best of luck, OP.

I am curious exactly where the sentiment that passion for an idea, and the success thereafter, has to come from the sacrifice of everything else in your life. Is this simply propagated through the romantic biographies of the few people who managed to turn these unfortunate circumstances into success?

Get a 9-5 job, take a breather, save some money, then try again after two years.

kriptonic, just sent you an email with a partnership proposal for a SaaS. Take a look...

My advice would be: try to do something small and with value. Don't try to start out the next big thing from the start. Try to start out the next useful thing, no matter how small.

Also, keep this $5,000 for yourself. If you can't create something of value without the money (more true as you can code), it is not $5,000 that will make it work.

Keep going. Keep going. Go to bed too when your gf looks at you and says "I am going to sleep." Next morning, Keep going.

you said that you have the skills, my advise to you create game like flappy bird you wil be rich like the founder of flappy bird.

I'm in a similar situation but without the girlfriend except I'm not trying to do a large startup, I'm trying to get a positive cash flow going through a SaaS and it's hard as hell to even get started! I mean I tried for the past 5 years, on and off, but I've been doing the same god damn problem everytime and it's recently that I realized that I don't know shit about business and marketing. I focused some time on that by researching and doing brainstorming.

I'm not ready to give up but it's just staggering how long it has taken me and each year, it has been a mediocre, mostly due to me burning out when it came time to do the business stuff because I spent all my energy on building the damn product and than kept on adding new features so that it would entice customers from the sheer list of features.

Take the $5000, save it. Do not spend it on a new startup idea. I've spent about $50 in total for my 12th attempt. I spent about $3000 on my 5th attempt in 2010. Didn't do jack shit. It's not really about the money you throw at it, it's about being not burnt out when it comes to do the important things I'm learning.

It took me many years to find an idea that worked.

I took jobs that didn't require many more hours beyond 9-5 (IE: boring programming jobs) and used my free time to work on business ideas.

Weekends were for friends and family. You need to learn how to balance your life, or it will be very difficult to succeed.

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