Why Startup Founders Fail: The Constant Frustration

Getting your business in shape is a lot like getting your body in shape

Joe Procopio


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I’m one of the most patient people you’ll ever meet. Until I’m not. Then all bets are off.

One of the reasons I’ve been somewhat successful in business is that I’m persistent to a fault. I will keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result until someone has to tell me that what I’m doing is the definition of insanity.

“I’m aware of that,” I’ll spit back. “Let’s just try it one more time.”

But everyone has their limits. And no matter what it is I’m doing — whether it’s business, or a hobby, or that old chestnut — getting in shape — that limit is somewhere at the end of a long flat line indicating zero progress over a period of days or weeks or even months.

Here’s what real life has taught me about how to lead through the stagnation of your business.

Like almost every single person in the world, I choose a time between Christmas and Arbor Day to really seriously start working out for real this time.

I’m actually rather adamant about it, and it’s become a part of my life. I’ve got a sweet, dirty gym setup in my garage and I live in a neighborhood with a nice half-mile loop where I won’t get killed by all the kids in said neighborhood who are now just getting their driver’s licenses. Sure, they’ll sideswipe me, but at least it’s only around 25–35 miles per hour.

Anyway, no matter which day I choose to start working out or how long of a ramp-up period I use, once I really seriously start working out for real, I will lose a few pounds right away, I’ll feel like a million bucks and walk around with my chest puffed out, but then I’ll inevitably hit a wall where I don’t lose any weight no matter how hard I work or how little I eat.

Frustration is insidious, because the problem always seems bigger than it is.

I don’t know if this is everyone. I’m not creating a workout program or anything like that (Get Nerd Fit!). I just know it happens to me every year, without fail. And every year, without fail, I lose my shit over it.



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com