What No One Tells You about Running a Business

What I wish I had known at the start.

“What are we going to do?” The question echoed in the dead space of the Zoom call. Silence. Confusion. Depleted options. Resignation. What’s the difference? There was nothing we could do. The client was supposed to pay weeks ago. But over month later, still nothing. And yet, we had planned — and spent — otherwise. The result: Liquidity issues. And that was just another day in my life running a business.

Carl Jung once said, “pursue what’s meaningful and you’ll encounter that which you least want to encounter.” If that’s true, I must be onto something. Because this business thing? It’s punishing. I do so many things I hate on a daily basis, it’s unbelievable. After the first week, I thought to myself, “Man, is this college? Why does it feel so bad?”

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve always wanted to do it. And even now, I don’t regret doing it, either. This is the only way I would’ve learned. But now that I’m doing it? Let’s just say I’m not overjoyed.

Business feels like parenting to me. Not that I’d know what that’s like — I just turned 21. But it feels like what I imagine parenting to be like: Life is pain for many years in the beginning, but the journey will become valuable in the end. To me, that’s what running a company is.

For context, I’m occupying the ringleader position in this company. That means I bear all the burden. Anything that goes wrong is on me since I call the shots. And being in this position may sound cool before you do it, but I assure you: The days are a mixed bag. Sometimes, I get to do unbelievably cool things. But most days, I’m the piñata of the whole operation.

When a couple clients screwed up our cash flow a while ago, I was immediately responsible for providing quick liquidity. By the next day, I had sold several of my expensive personal assets. At a fraction of their value, of course. Low prices mean quick deals. And even if it meant taking a loss, I had no choice. We needed the cash to run the business.

All this, while still doing my job in the small team. I still had code to write. Technical problems to solve. Articles to publish. People to follow up with. Questions to answer. On one particularly bad week, I even rationed my food because I didn’t have cash to buy more. I was supposed to make three days of supplies last a week. In the end, I made it last almost two.

Listen, this might sound like a confusing mess. But that’s because it really is. Every day brings a new challenge — and I don’t mean it in a good way. I mean it in a “I wake up to the sound of artillery fire” kind of way. Business is relentless. Brutal. Demanding. And unforgiving of error.

No one tells you this at the starting line. You hear general messages of caution, but nothing about how real the sacrifices can be. I personally lost a lot more in this game than I expected to. And honestly, I’d give it all up for a peaceful life with a family. But I keep doing it, anyway. Because that’s my job. And my team is counting on me.

Writing code that burns cash (trading bots). <mika@myika.co>

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