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Five Stages of Startup: Level 5 -- The End
Exit, Failure, Graduation, Next, Giving Back
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The five stages of startup I'm discussing are not THE five stages of startup. They're just landmarks, broken down and generalized into something that we can all hopefully use as a guide, not gospel.

This is the final stage of the generalized startup timeline, and with this, we've now covered the entire roadmap, from humble beginning to glorious end. Level 1: The Jump is the period of time when you have a great idea that will become a great product. Level 2: Start is when the company is formed, it figures out how to operate, and launches that great product. Level 3: The Journey is about running and growing your company and selling your product. Level 4: The Grind covers all the ups and downs along the way.

But all good things…

The End can happen a few different ways. There are happy endings, horrible endings, and endings where you just shrug your shoulders and move on.

You shouldn't really do a lot of planning for the end. Your goal is to build an incredible business, one that you want to work on every day for the rest of your life. But let's face it, you're an entrepreneur, and you might find that there are other ideas you'd like to pursue -- ideas that may be totally different from the one that got you where you are today.

If you've done your startup right, there will be several knocks of opportunity at your door, people who want to buy everything you've built, and you'll need to listen to most of those offers. If you've done it wrong, failure -- inevitable, heartbreaking failure -- will come calling instead, and that's a call you've got to answer too.

Oh, and I need to tell you that you can do everything right and failure might just show up anyway. He's kind of a jerk.

Regardless of how you close the curtain on your startup, the end is also a new beginning, and you'll need to know how to start over.

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My Employer Terminated Me Two Weeks Ago So I Am Building My Own Office In My Backyard
And They Are Not Invited
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I heard someone say the other day: "researchers found that the more you swear, the more honest you tend to be." No source cited, of course. But it sounds effing reasonable.

(And because I want you to believe everything I say, I will try to squeeze in a few F-bombs).

Now, before I continue, let me pause briefly to tell you how I effing got here.

• I started this and grew it over three years before I made one strategic error too many and had to effing close it down.

• Having been an entrepreneur for almost two decades (that includes the landscaping business I started when I was 12 and loaded my parents' push-mower into my mom's minivan and "ubered" to one of two gas stations whose ~acre of knee-high grass got the business from my dull blade every two weeks for what amounted to $10/hour, before deducting effing expenses), I was torn between diving back in to my next venture right away and going on a sabbatical to work for someone else for a change.

• I was conflicted by these two choices, and then I read this and decided to take a job with an older, wiser, more established startup who could offer me some semblance of stability for awhile--I do not really know what stability feels like; that is the effing downside of being an oft-romanticized "serial entrepreneur."

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VIDEO: Survive Or Die
Teaching Startup: The Show - Episode 1.6
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You hear this all the time as a cautionary tale in startup -- Survive or Die! There will be times when you have to make the decision to power through all of your mistakes or give up under the weight of them. Unlike a corporate job, in startup, there's no structure to blend into, nothing to hide behind, and no one is going to swoop in and save you.

That's part of the growth process of becoming an entrepreneur. It's hard to do and not always fun to talk about, but we found a way.

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All Startups Are Scams
THE SHOW - Episode 4.2
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There's a fine line between being a dreamer and being an entrepreneur. Don't get me wrong, I mean this in the best light possible. Without dreams, without suspension of disbelief, without the ignorance of what can't be done, the entrepreneur is no different than the cubicle drone. One thing separates the entrepreneur from the dreamer: Execution.

There's also a fine line between being an entrepreneur and being a scam artist. Let's face it, if you're doing startup right, you're doing something no one has ever done before with no proof it will work, much less succeed. And you're trying to sell that vaporware, that dream, those magic beans, to customers or investors or both.

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The Poker Episode
THE SHOW - Episode 4.3
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In startup, everyone talks about failure and a lot of folks even encourage it -- Fail fast and fail often, they say. There's nothing wrong with this mantra, on its face, but it's rare that someone will actually walk you through what failure looks like and how to prepare for it. In startup, failure isn't the loss of your startup, failure is a long parade of pain.

In corporate life, failure is the loss of your job, maybe the loss of your house, your car, your family, everything you've worked so hard for. A lot of folks avoid startup because it seems like the risk is much higher to wind up in that aforementioned nightmare situation. But contrary to conventional wisdom, entrepreneurs don't love risk, they love to stare down risk, tolerate it, and mitigate it. If they're good, they eliminate it.

That got us talking about poker.

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Click An Icon To Start Over

Five Stages of Startup

Five Roles of Startup

Five Kinds of Startup

Five Funding Sources

Five Reasons for Startup