From a Startup Founder: Why You Probably Shouldn’t Start a Startup

From a Startup Founder: Why You Probably Shouldn’t Start a Startup

There’s this romantic vision of founding startup that doesn’t hold up under close scrutiny. Sure, there are a few select cases where startup makes sense! But they are so rare, and it’s so easy to fool yourself into thinking a bad opportunity is a good one, that it’s really worth to slap yourself once or twice before jumping into a brewing volcano.

One thing first though. This isn’t a list of arguments about why startups suck, nope. This about what a startup CAN be like for MOST people.


We live in a time where startups are the new Beatles – everybody loves them, everybody wants to be part of one and everybody wants to start one of their own.

You can’t escape the appeal. Startups promise a cocktail of innovation, camaraderie, and the ever-tempting prospect of making it big. It’s as if we’re all stuck in a grand episode of “Shark Tank”. You imagine walking into work, high-fiving your visionary colleagues, and casually changing the world before lunch.

Yeah, no. When I think about startups I also think — chaos, uncertainty, permanent existential crisis and crippling dread.

Like an iceberg, much of the startup reality is hidden beneath the surface of glamorous success stories.

Today I want to talk about exactly that — the less-known dark side of startups.

P.S. — I know, I’m a hypocrite. I am a startup founder myself and wouldn’t change it for the world but still, hear me out.

Reason #1: The False Allure of Startup Stardom

I get it. The startup world looks like a dazzling constellation of breakout stars, soaring stock options, and youthful CEOs. But the media’s shining startup narrative is largely an illusion, a pink mirage that hides the bleak reality of startup survival.

Did you know that around 90% of startups go kaput? So much for the glamor.

The Zucks and the Musks of the world, they’re the exceptions, not the rule. The average startup saga is a grueling marathon, not a thrilling sprint to stardom.

Sure, the headlines will tell you about those prodigious founders who went from zero to a billion in a heartbeat, but they won’t mention the graveyard of failed ventures, dreams turned to dust.

Those dead startups? They’re the silent majority, the overlooked footnotes in the grand startup narrative.

These hard working entrepreneurs don’t get their names mentioned. Instead, they’re confined to the catacombs of anonymity, becoming ghostly footnotes in the grand startup saga.

Most of the time startups are more like a survival horror show and the elusive stardom is more phantom than fact.

The overnight success story is about as common as finding a golden ticket in your chocolate bar.

Reason #2: Say Goodbye to Your Free Time

Ah, the sweet promise of “flexible work hours,” a euphemism in the startup world for “work until you drop.” Flexibility, in this context, is like a rubber band – sure it stretches, but remember it snaps back with a vengeance, usually at 2 AM.

Startups operate on hustle culture steroids. Unlike established companies with 9-to-5 routines, startups run on ’round-the-clock productivity spurts. So, if you’re picturing afternoon siestas and morning yoga sessions — just stop.

Picture this instead: frantic Slack (or Discord in our case) messages at midnight, ‘quick’ meetings that devour your Sundays, and, of course, the work-cations that are more work than ‘cation’.

And this makes sense, because in a startup (especially as a founder) you’re constantly in an emergency mode.

While it’s a myth that every startup requires you to work overtime every week, most startup employees put in 50-60 hours per week, and many founders put in 60-100 per week.

Sure, Elon Musk might sing praises of his 100-hour work weeks, but then again, he’s a freak of nature who thrives on Martians dreams and Twitter wars.

Your work doesn’t just eat up your free time — the work becomes all the time there is.

Reason #3: Emotional Turbulence, Anyone?

“Embrace the chaos,” they say. It’s the startup mantra, the founder badge of honor. But let me tell you, it’s less of a gentle embrace and more of a chokehold. Here your emotions are the unsuspecting passengers of a rollercoaster designed by a maniac.

One moment, you’re soaring high on the wings of a successful pitch, adrenaline rushing, dopamine pumping. The next, you’re plummeting into the abyss of a failed product launch, grappling with anxiety and staring existential dread in the face. It’s like living in a constant state of emotional whiplash.

That’s why I always say startup founders have only two modes:

  • God complex – soaring high on vision.
  • Existential crisis – getting slapped down by reality.

A study from the University of San Francisco found that 49% of entrepreneurs reported mental health conditions. Emotional stability? What a joke.

Professionals in these high-stress environments often find themselves facing alarming health issues before they even hit 40. You’re likely to end up in the ER before you make your first million.

Startups may deliver an adrenaline rush but just like every “rush” they leave you burnt out and utterly drained.

Remember to put your well-being first. You can’t enjoy startup success if you’re too burnt out to appreciate it.

Embrace your limits. Sometimes, saying “No thanks, I’ve had enough” could be the bravest decision you make.

Reason #4: Job Security? Is That Some Kind of Joke?

I’ll be quick about this.

Job security in startups is about as reliable as a politician’s promises right before the elections.

One moment you’re basking in the sun, celebrating a successful round of funding; the next, you’re on the verge of going bankrupt..

Startups are like the Wild West: untamed, unpredictable, and not for the faint-hearted. A startup can be on top of the world today, only to be swept away in the tide of insolvency tomorrow.

Reason #5: Equity, the Golden Carrot

Ah, equity—the golden carrot dangled before every potential startup employee, promising future riches beyond your wildest dreams. “Join us, and you could be the next startup millionaire!” they cry.

Remember, 90% of startups — flop. So, for most, that golden carrot is just a mirage in the desert. And, even if your startup is among the lucky 10%, the road to cashing out is a long, winding marathon, not a breezy sprint.

Then there’s dilution. Oh yes, every funding round eats a piece of your precious equity pie. By the time the payout comes, you might be left staring at a meager slice, wondering if all the blood, sweat, and tears were worth it.

So, before you get hypnotized by the glitter of equity, even as a founder, remember: all that glitters is not gold.

Reason #6: The Unsustainable “Hustle” Culture

And last, but certainly not least, let’s chew on the infamous “hustle” culture of startups. I mean, who doesn’t love the image of caffeine-fueled coders hunched over keyboards, hacking away into the wee hours? The poster child for passion and dedication, right?

This so-called “hustle” culture isn’t just about a little elbow grease. It’s an unhealthy obsession with work. It’s a marathon of overwork disguised as ambition, and it’s as sustainable as a boiling teapot.

When we normalize this culture, we don’t just set unrealistic standards—we build a time bomb ticking away at our health, relationships, and ultimately, our happiness.

And… The One (BIG) Reason You Might Want to Start or Join a Startup Anyway


That was depressive.

There’s a catch though. Despite the blood, sweat, and (yes, literally) tears that startups demand, I still think for the right kind of people (the fearless, the restless, and the downright stubborn) it’s the best freaking environment for growth!

One major reason? The chance of hitting the jackpot, of course. There’s nothing quite like seeing your fledgling idea morph into the next Google or Uber, turning you from pauper to prince overnight (okay, more like over many, many nights).

But startup life isn’t just about the potential unicorn status. It’s also about growth—rapid, intense, and sometimes painful. You’ll learn more in a year at a startup than you would in five years of cruising in a cushy corporate gig. You’ll pick up new skills, adapt, pivot, and evolve at breakneck speed, becoming a Swiss army knife of talent.

And let’s not forget the thrill of creation. Building something from scratch, something that could potentially change lives—well, that’s a high that no paycheck can match. There’s an undeniable charm in being the underdog, in fighting the good fight.

Plus, startups can be the ultimate networking playground. You’ll rub shoulders with the industry’s brightest minds and may even stumble into a mentor or two.

Fast-track career progression? Check. At startups, hierarchy takes a back seat to capability. Deliver results, and you’ll zoom up the ladder.

So, in the sea of reasons why you shouldn’t, there’s one hefty, glittering reason why you might want to take the chance.