5 Lessons Eric Learned Building Hookdeck. Year One.
2021 was a roller coaster of a year. Hookdeck officially incorporated in January, went from just two co-founders to a team of five, and started generating revenue! These are all milestones I cherish, but something I cherish equally is the personal growth I’ve discovered along the way.
What I'm sharing may not be revelatory or life-changing, and I’m definitely not the only startup founder out there, but I do believe that it is valuable to stop and take stock of what you’ve learned when creating your own business. Maybe the lessons I’ve learned along the way can help you avoid making the same mistakes I did, or maybe it’s just nice to know what you’re about to get yourself into. So, in the spirit of community and self-improvement, here are some of the lessons I’ve learned as a startup founder in the year 2021.
1) There's always more to do
Taking breaks is extremely important. At the beginning I knew that my "superpower" was the ability to be extremely disciplined and get things done (consultant genes come in handy here as I’ve forged strong working habits over the years). What I didn't foresee is the toll it takes to be “on” consistently over 10 months.
I learned that taking breaks is extremely worth it, and I continuously encourage the people around me to take time off and decompress. Personally, I often feel I'm shouldering a lot of responsibility. It can be easy to think, “I'm the only one in charge of customer acquisition and operations so I can't slack off.” But I’ve realized how skewed this mindset it, and I’ll walk you through it with a numerical example.
Let's say I work 48 hours a week, but due to the constant energy I’m spending, my output is only 80% of my usual quality of work. Over a month, I'm actually less productive than if I had worked 40 hours a week at 100% productivity.
(80% * 48* 4) = 153 hours of productivity
(40 * 4) = 160 hours of productivity
What this data tells me, and I like data, is that I can berate myself for not doing enough work and just forge ahead haphazardly, or I can understand that there is always more to do, but **my work and I will both be better off if I pace myself.
2) Taking care of myself
Before starting Hookdeck, I was introduced to transcendental meditation through a friend. It was life-changing to be learn how to relax my brain twice a day. It helped me pause and process everything that's been happening, both tangibly with work and emotional stress.
I heightened my resolve to look after myself in an intentional way, and incorporated physical activities. I already practiced yoga every day, but now I'm adding high intensity sports into my weekly routine. I used to play a lot of sports growing up, but since I’ve started working as an adult I have forgotten how much better my mood and concentration are when I’m active.
Life doesn’t stop when you have a job; the things that made you feel good before will probably still help now, and remembering that I need to make time for myself has been a big goal this year.
What's next? Eating and sleeping better! I think I'm decent in these areas, but I am motivated to rethink how I approach both in order to feel fully rested and confident in my routine.
Truly, a life that incorporates wellbeing is bliss.
I've always been adamant in protecting my time and energy. Everyone only has 24 hours in a day! Because of this, I've started to live out some of the mottos of minimalism. Removing clutter and owning less has been a revelation. I never thought I owned that many things, but after being more mindful, I realized that every extra object that I don’t really need steals mindspace.
Removing everything that I don't 100% need helps me place my consciousness in the present moment and appreciate what I have for what it is. Minimalism is a tool that allows me to be happier and thrive doing activities I care about. I get to focus on things I previously neglected because I defaulted to watching Netflix to relax...now I play guitar, read, go for walks instead, and I won’t go back.
Bonus: How easy it is to be bad at communication
I’d like to quickly highlight an extra thing I learned this year, which is be careful of Slack! Too many times I’ve had discussions go sour because of miscommunication. Words alone don't always transmit enough context, and being extremely mindful when you write to convey the right cues is long and definitely not what Slack thrives for.
Now, when I see messages being exchanged rapidly, I call for a huddle. I always want the chance to listen and understand what is being said before answering, so that everybody is on the same page and messages are not being misconstrued.
4) Believing in what you do
When you have a vision and articulate it proudly, people that care about the problem you are trying to solve will root for you. This makes it so much easier to stay focused and motivated. Knowing what and for whom you are thriving for makes decision-making more obvious, because you want to stay aligned with your mission and keep your product's promise to those who support you.
I truly believe that Hookdeck will one day be the only service ingesting the internet's webhooks. Why? Because having the simplest tool for testing webhooks integration from development to production, and then handling all the challenges in production, will free developers from the burdens of managing asynchronous communication.
5) Connecting with developers is so much fun!
As part of my role, I spend a lot of time reaching out to the many developers that sign up and use Hookdeck. In the beginning, I didn't love to do it because it felt intrusive, but I learned that users are super receptive to sharing their use cases.
It's been an absolute joy to connect with people using Hookdeck to solve problems. Nothing feels better than being able to help!
Hookdeck just became real. Time flies and taking the time to remember the year makes me grateful to be surrounded by amazing people that help contribute to Hookdeck’s success.
Nobody is perfect; I don't expect that from anybody. Sharing the journey with humans just like me who have undeniable talents, but also their own flaws that I can see and be part of their growth day over day, makes the experience rewarding and worthwhile.
I'm looking toward 2022!
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