Dealing with Entrepreneurship Overwhelm in San Francisco
If I looked at one more color palette I was going to projectile vomit my third venti coffee of the day all over the seventeen Safari tabs that cluttered my screen. Why was this so hard? We knew we wanted some version of blue and green. How in the world was every dang color palette as tacky as h-e-double hockey sticks? Another wave of panic washed over me. What if this was all a terrible idea?
I like to call this predicament facing many in San Francisco entrepreneurship overwhelm. I was looking for a color palette for the new company I had just formed with a business partner. We had decided on a name, procured the LLC, purchased the domain, created a pro forma balance sheet, received a verbal commitment from our first two clients, and we were now in the muck of it all.
My business partner (a San Francisco transplant) and I had decided not to raise capital for the project. We were going to get it all started ourselves. As I pondered the difference between monochromatic and analogous color schemes, I began to regret our decision. I’m no graphic designer. I can’t even pick out an outfit without the seal of approval from a Trunk Club stylist. Who am I to do any of this?
The defeatist thoughts kept coming. What if I do all of this work and it doesn’t take off? I would have wasted a lot of time. I could have done ten things already in the time I have spent pondering the difference between teal and seafoam.
I had reached that precarious point in creating a new thing when the excitement and newness of it all wear off and you realize that you have only just barely arrived at the base camp of Everest.
I thought of creating our logo, remembering to ask our lawyer about website terms and conditions, the prospective employee with whom I needed to schedule an interview, and what shirt I would wear when filming our sales video. The thoughts spiraled faster and faster in the Kansas of my mind until I decided to take cover in the only tornado shelter I could think of at the moment.
I called my business partner. She answered with an “Omigahd what went wrong now?” It sounded like she was experiencing a bit of weather as well. I told her of my color palette woes.
Then, she uttered the most profound thing I think I have heard in a long time.
Just pick something that’s not terrible. It will inevitably change at some point anyway. Let’s just get this plane off the ground.
My mental clouds parted, I peeked my head out of the tornado shelter, and Toto ran up to lick my face. She was right. We both knew it. And we both knew it because we had both lived it.
See, my business partner and I met while working for a startup seven years ago (not in San Francisco - in Los Angeles). We witnessed every part of the creation of what is now a successfully operating company. And it was a messy and bumpy a-double-s-s ride. I thought of that company’s first logo which was now at least five iterations in the past. I looked at my desktop that was littered with screenshots of potential color schemes. Just pick one. I did.
The direct result of that decision was not only a massive exhale, but it was also the key to making many other subsequent decisions as well. Just get this plane off the ground. Her advice served to effectively slow down the swirling mess of to-do’s in my head so that I could stop, think, and accomplish one task at a time.
I knew that everything would probably change in the future. We would have to pivot, we would need to recreate some materials, and yes, we would probably get ourselves a new color palette. But none of that would happen until we got the plane in the air. One decision at a time.
So, if you are in San Francisco and you happen to find yourself being swept up in the tornado of entrepreneurship overwhelm, I encourage you to take the advice of my business partner who, in essence, paraphrased the great words of Theodore Roosevelt— Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Just get the plane off the ground.