(From an aside by one of LinkedIn’s founding team (interesting blog post on what it was like raising the first Series A funding for LI))
This is one of the hardest things for “old style” European VC firms and Angels to get their heads around, IME. And it’s entirely true, IMHO.
In general, if you find your startup is like swimming uphill against a stream – no matter that you’re succeeding – then it’s either a crummy startup hardly worth doing, or you’re going about it the wrong way. In most startups there are many occasions when it’s difficult or hard work – but in each case, the “working hard” part is optional: you could keep working at a normal pace and still succeed; you just choose to work harder in order to take your “success” and make it “a bigger success”. If you have to work hard just to avoid failure … forget it.
I suspect it’s the infamous protestant work ethic that (perhaps) leads vast swathes of UK and EU people to believe:
“if I work hard, and I suffer, I’m (deserve to) going to succeed; I should expect it to be hard, and cultivate difficulty; easy things are to be suspected and – ultimately – avoided”
IMHO, it’s more likely that a lazy person will find a great product/market/timing and be successful … than that a hard worker will take a weak product/market/timing and force it to succeed by working their ass off. A startup is a company; more than any individual – if the idea is great, other people will join, and tend to pull the work-output closer to the average.
Think on this:
if you’re a lazy founder, every person you hire is bringing the average up. If you’re a workaholic, every person you hire is bringing it down.
(Who am I kidding? If you’re a workaholic, you probably aren’t allowing anyone else in anyway – and don’t have time to interview them. You’re working harder and harder, somehow subconsciously convinced that “hard work” will inevitably create “success”)