After years of advising startups and founding companies, Micah Baldwin was tired. During his talk last week at our Big Kansas City event, the serial entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Graphicly told the audience how he became so worn out he almost sold the company.
Graphicly started out as a marketplace for selling comic books. The company changed focus in 2012 to become a provider of tools for publishers. The digital publishing platform helps creators distribute their work in various formats, such as Kindle, Nook and iOS. The company advanced in its funding goals, but Baldwin said he came home every day and sat in his yard feeling drained.
“I wanted to quit. I was in the process of trying to sell the company,” he said. But instead of giving up on a startup that really mattered to him, and to the employees, investors and platform users, Baldwin decided to focus on what was going wrong and try to fix it.
He realized many founders and CEOs felt the same exhaustion he did, and he wanted to know why. The answer he came up with was that for all the time entrepreneurs spend optimizing companies, “we don’t spend time optimizing ourselves.”
Baldwin also believes founders tend to internalize problems. “The silence has to end,” he said, calling on entrepreneurs to stop giving the impression that everything is “awesome” and they’re always “crushin’ it.”
Baldwin urged entrepreneurs to remember they are not their companies. “We get to a point where we believe what we do is who we are,” he said. When asked how they are doing or if they need help with anything, Baldwin noticed entrepreneurs tend to answer with things that are affecting the company, not them personally.
Making some changes in the way he viewed his life has allowed Baldwin to stick with Graphicly and regain his sense of purpose. The company recently raised another round of financing.
Among the tips Baldwin shared with entrepreneurs was to take care of their bodies and be happy—take time to notice and enjoy the small moments in life. He also said to “get a pal,” especially when it comes to choosing a co-founder.
He described a pal as a peer, somebody who can be a sounding board. “You don’t have to do this alone,” Baldwin said. “It’s easier to balance sh*t if you have extra shoulders.”
Big Kansas City is a two-and-a-half-day event that aims to inspire, educate and celebrate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the heart of the Midwest. Produced by Silicon Prairie News, it’s part of the Big Series, the nation’s most ambitious events on innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Big Kansas City Video Series is presented by NIC, Inc.
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