Ways Startups Are Like Sex

Startups Are Like Sex

As with anything in the Human Experience, starting a company can be viewed through the lens of sex. The sex-lens. Look through the sex-lens with me. Come on! It’s not creepy – what are you talking about!? Come look at how startups are like sex…

startups are like sex
This image was labeled “Making Startups” on Wikimedia Commons… but are they making Startups… or making whoopee? I can’t tell either. See? Startups are like sex!

Hey, Don’t Go Getting Any Ideas, Okay?

A company, like any act of sexual congress, always starts with an idea. Whether it’s:

  • Catching a snippet of conversation out of context across a crowded bar,
  • Finding them lurking unexpectedly in the dim and dusty depths of your subconscious,
  • Discovering their appeal with intrigue through an absorbing conversation,
  • Or noticing that “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” look in your partner’s..

…the idea is where it all begins. Something snags your attention and nags at you to explore it further. You sense an opportunity.

That idea could be as simple as “hey – I bet he/she’s DTF” or “Why should I have to visit the bank to access my money!?” (Look, I know how that reads, but it’s not an over-complicated euphemism, I swear).

The “Nerves” Barrier

Risk. It is, by definition, the inhabitant of the space between danger and opportunity.

  • Danger: This idea could be stupid. / They might not be interested.
  • Opportunity: You’ll never know if you don’t make the attempt.
  • Danger: I might not be able to pull it off.
  • Opportunity: Look at what you stand to gain if you do.
  • Danger: What if someone else is doing something similar in this field? / What if they’re spoken for?
  • Opportunity: CRUSH THE OPPOSITION!!!

Sometimes the little Klingon on your shoulder (he provided that final “opportunity” bullet point for me) isn’t enough to give you the courage, if so:

A Little Emotional (Or Financial) Support Goes A Long Way

An important part of the process in sex or startups is finding support. That support can come in the form of a wing-man who doesn’t share your goals but will help you towards them – an angel investor if you will – or the explicit willingness of a partner (or partners if you want to get kinky) to get things going.

To find such support you can try new things or events like:

Remember To Be Sensitive To Your Partner

As that last link emphasizes, COMMUNICATE!

startups are like sex
entrepreneurs… or sensitive lovers? You decide. (This article is replete with ambiguous imagery, isn’t it?)

Communicate how you’re feeling about what’s happening, be aware of how anyone else involved is feeling, because together, you can make it work better for everyone.

Talking to one another throughout the process can improve synergy in the… project…align goals, and lets each participant know how the other likes it.

Foreplay: As Important In The Boardroom As In The Bedroom

Getting everyone onboard takes more than a shared idea of what to do, a sense of trust and mutual desire, and good communication. To build cohesiveness and get everyone in the mood, team-building exercises are advised.

You could try:

These activities are essential at the beginning of any sexy startup. They remain useful tools and techniques in different combinations as things progress to keep each person involved interested and committed to the general effort.

It’s Not Always Going To Be Awesome

As serial entrepreneur (and serial monogamist) Elon Musk outlines in the video below, getting things going isn’t always comfortable:

Indeed, Musk’s choice of words might apply to foreplay with a sexual partner with extremely poor personal hygiene… the less said about that, the better.

The point is that it won’t always be plain sailing – at some point or other, someone will be uncomfortable with what’s happening, or will get hurt. It’s important to adapt to the changing situation – again, communication is key. Your partner’s sensitivities will be unique, and may surprise you.

Oh Wow… Things Are Really Starting To Hum Now!

There will come a coast phase, where you lock into the rewarding routine of building momentum. If you’re lucky, the initial investments (in money or reciprocated arousal – depending what we’re talking about here) will let you build and build. But you’re burning through your starting energy (money again – there’re only so many double entendres that work here, folks!), and your aim is to achieve… um… profitability before that energy runs out.

You want to achieve equitable profit for all investors, so… I dunno… try synchronizing your breathing or something.

Achieving profitability: Where things come to a head…

It can take a long time to hit that golden moment where the margins turn green, and you feel like you’re proving your worth. You have to keep tabs on expenditure and strategy all the way up to that moment, but when it arrives…

startups are like sexIt’s time to break out the bubbly! Try telling me now that you don’t think Startups are like sex!

Something tells me this subheading needs more gifs:

startups are like sex
Some suitably phallic imagery, again courtesy of Mr. Musk.

Wait, wait, wait! It’s not over yet…

If you’ve done your job right, then everybody’s happy. But to go from Startup to Company (or companions…?), you need to nail repeatability (Yes, I have a massive thing for SpaceX). I mean, that’s usually desirable, right? Doing it more than once?

Of course, the best way to do that is to maintain the trust and remember the lessons established during the startup phase. You can streamline the most awkward moments out of the process entirely. You can re-assess what works, what doesn’t, and what might be better.

The key to sustainability is to develop further supporting infrastructure (hire more people/go on more dates, expand the premises/vacation together) while retaining that nimble startup mentality. That’s the key to keeping things fresh and um… profitable.

To Recap: The Ways Startups Are Like Sex

They both:

  • Take guts to initiate.
  • Are better with the support/involvement of friends.
  • Have the potential to hurt you or your partner(s).
  • Can be great fun if done right.
  • Can still be hard work, even when they’re fun.
  • Will hopefully lead to a wonderful payoff and many repeat performances.