A brief excerpt summarizing the findings:
Unconsciously, everyone expects a startup to be like a job, and that explains most of the surprises. It explains why people are surprised how carefully you have to choose cofounders and how hard you have to work to maintain your relationship. You don't have to do that with coworkers. It explains why the ups and downs are surprisingly extreme. In a job there is much more damping. But it also explains why the good times are surprisingly good: most people can't imagine such freedom. As you go down the list, almost all the surprises are surprising in how much a startup differs from a job.There are 19 surprises listed in the essay. Below are excerpts from some of them:
Be careful who you pick as a cofounder ... [and] work hard to maintain your relationship.Definitely worth reading the entire article if you are at all considering a startup.
Startups take over your life ... [You will spend] every waking moment either working or thinking about [your] startup.
It's an emotional roller-coaster ... How low the lows can be ... [though] it can be fun ... [But] starting a startup is fun the way a survivalist training course would be fun, if you're into that sort of thing. Which is to say, not at all, if you're not.
Persistence is the key .... [but] mere determination, without flexibility ... may get you nothing.
You have to do lots of different things ... It's much more of a grind than glamorous.
When you let customers tell you what they're after, they will often reveal amazing details about what they find valuable as well what they're willing to pay for.
You can never tell what will work. You just have to do whatever seems best at each point.
Expect the worst with deals ... Deals fall through.
The degree to which feigning certitude impressed investors .... A lot of what startup founders do is just posturing. It works.
How much of a role luck plays and how much is outside of [your] control ... Having skill is valuable. So is being determined as all hell. But being lucky is the critical ingredient ... Founders who succeed quickly don't usually realize how lucky they were.
For my personal take on some surprises I hit, please see my earlier post on Starting Findory.