“It’s just hell everyday”: Running a startup means learning to love the heat, says Adir Shiffman

Adir Shiffman

Adir Shiffman, executive chairman of Catapult Group. Source: Supplied.

Startup life is hard, and if you think it’s going to get better, you’ve got another think coming, according to serial entrepreneur and startup advisor Adir Shiffman.

Shiffman is executive chairman of ASX-listed sports tech company Catapult, and has been involved in a number of startups over the years, including acting as chairman of mattress startup Sleeping Duck.

In his time, he’s learnt a few things about what makes for a successful business, he tells SmartCompany.

“There’s a clear narrative that, over time, founders that are obsessed with the customer and making a great product will end up beating founders that are predominantly marketing-led,” he explains.

However, if you fail to consider marketing at all, “you stand quite a high likelihood of dying before you get traction”, he adds.

“The trick is to stay alive.”

For anyone who has ever been involved in a startup, Shiffman says if they’re being honest about it, the number one thing to figure out is how to make some money before you run out of money.

With Sleeping Duck, for example, the huge issue that hung over the business was the potential of having a cash balance of zero.

“We had to deal with that problem early on in the business; there was no option but to,” he says.

But Shiffman admits he views startup challenges a little differently to some. For him, it’s something like an addiction.

“If you’re going to be involved in high-growth businesses, every day you’re basically going through hell,” he explains.

Especially as a founder, if you think the challenges will be short-lived, or that things are going to get better, you’re sadly mistaken.

“It’s just hell everyday,” he adds.

“What you need to do is become a lover of hell. That is the only way you will feel happy inside one of these businesses,” Shiffman advises.

“It’s never relaxed, there are never no problems.

“That’s the honest truth about startups. It is just endless problems, endless disasters, endless catastrophes.

“And if you’re able to solve most of them effectively, you end up with a really high-quality company that makes a lot of money.”

NOW READ: “This is what I need. I’m burnt out and I’m tired”: How these high-profile founders look after their mental health

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