Bootstrap Legal Founder, Amy Wan, Esq.: I think it was a real mental barrier and the hardest part was just getting started and having the belief in myself that I could do it, that people should give me money, that I could even raise money.
I never thought I would be an entrepreneur, to be perfectly honest. I think I was raised in a very traditional way. I was supposed to go get a job and work 9-5 for the rest of my life and have a husband and a family and pop out kids. And honestly (for most of my life) I’m not sure I thought I could do it. I think it was really through being an executive at my first startup, I was one of the first employees there and we grew the company to 45 people where we went through the entire process. I looked at what the founders were doing and I thought “You know, this is really difficult, but I think I could also do it.”
And then when I was partner at a law firm, I had a lot of startup clients and being an attorney is interesting because you have this interesting perspective into their back end. Like everyone else sees what they’re putting out to the public. I see what’s happening actually behind the scenes. And I thought “Hey, if these people can do this, I think I can do this as well.” Right? I think it was a real mental barrier and the hardest part was just getting started and having the belief in myself that I could do it, that people should give me money, that I could even raise money. Those were the biggest initial hurdles. But I think once you get started, everything snowballs and it gets easier.
One of the big challenges of starting a startup or being in a startup is finding that fine line between being young and hungry and idealistic and ambitious and really taking on a lot of risks. And being the idealist that sits there and doesn’t really do anything.
You have to actually be able to execute. If you just have an idea, well sorry. Millions of people have ideas everyday. If you don’t execute on it, it means actually nothing.
At the same time you also have to be idealistic, but also be realistic with what you can fundraise, what you can accomplish in a short amount of time. I often see a lot of entrepreneurs out there who are like trying to hype up what they do. They are always bragging about what they do but really (on the back end) they don’t even have anything. There’s a lot of chest thumping in this space, right? Like lots of people are trying to make a loud noise. I think you have to be able to show confidence, but there is value also in being very authentic and real. And I think that makes people trust you, that still have confidence in you. There are all these little fine lines that you really have to navigate around.
I think a lot of people move to working a startup or they move to Silicon Valley or whatever and they have this idea of “Oh this is going to be awesome. We can go to work in our P.J.s or jeans and there’s going to be free lunch and snacks everyday and it’s going to be super awesome.” I think when you’re actually working on one, yes it’s really fun because you are working with a lot of smart people. But you are actually working really hard and oftentimes way harder than than you would work in a regular 9-5 job. And you are constantly on your phone every day, at night, on the weekends. That’s just the life of a startup entrepreneur.
Everybody talks about wanting to find this balance, there is none. If you have a spouse, if you have a significant other, they will sit there and they will complain like “Hey, you are always on your phone. How about me?” That’s just the reality of the situation.
So I think a lot of people are attracted to the glamour and the glitz and “Oh…we’re are going to get so much funding and we’re going to go have a boat party.” But I would say that’s probably 1% of the experience. And if you’re doing what you really actually need to be doing, the other 99% is a real grind. So you actually have to believe in what you’re doing and not just think “Hey, this is a nice, quick, rich paycheck.” Because raising funding is not easy either.
Question: What made you think you could be an entrepreneur?