In December last year the shareholders of PlanHQ decided to sell all our shares to one of the founders and exit the company. The decision was notable precisely because it was so unnotable.
PlanHQ was founded bam smack in the dot com hype. It was the second startup I’d been involved in, we had a great team (most of whom I still work with on other projects and who are some of the most brilliant webbie people I’ve met), we had high aspirations. There were trips to the US, big launches, big buzz, features on Techcrunch, rushed deadlines and too many awful curries eaten in the late nights that go along with quick deadlines.
I lived and breathed it for a LONG time, it was the cause and situation for a lot of the life changing moments in my life. While I suppose it’s clear PlanHQ hasn’t become the resounding success we imagined, I think as part of saying goodbye completely, it’s as good as any time to count the lessons:
- Don’t believe your own hype. YOU created it and hype doesn’t equal success. Don’t over hype stuff you can’t deliver.
- Know when to walk away. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but looking back it should have been cut and dried… A long time before I did.
- Be adaptable. Most startups don’t wind up being what they started. I suppose in the same vein, most of us from PlanHQ have morphed what we learned from it into some pretty cool, successful things.
- Back yourself. Startups are one of the few places in life that you take major risks and as part of that you should believe that you can make a success of it and that your ideas are as good as the next guy’s.
- Back your team. Most people couldn’t survive a startup. I can say that now after witnessing people who freak out continually at stuff that seems like a pittance in comparison. People who are drawn to them are often pretty awesome (or pretty delusional). If you have the awesome people, it’s worth giving them freedom in their area of expertise. The product will be all the better for it.
- Don’t get burned out. I know PlanHQ had a whole set of unique circumstances for me, but I feel like I’m still getting my energy back a few years later.
When signing the share transfer forms, it was hard NOT to think back to the time I thought those shares would be selling for a lot more eventually. It was also cool to realise that despite everything turning out so differently, I wouldn’t change it.
P.S I’m super excited about some of the products we’re launching in the near future!