Building Solo: Combating Founder’s Paradox

By Syed Ali

The millennial mindset redrew the global narrative on efficiency, growth, and independence. We are increasingly becoming open thereby exposing myriad shades within ourselves as a society; our presence is becoming more pronounced because everyone is connected to the internet and has a voice and many think alike. Data science is able to identify the micro-groups within our society in more unambiguous terms, again law of nature applies here too; action and reaction. Transportation of thoughts is becoming ever more pervasive and this is also causing tectonic shifts within our political and personal landscapes. For instance; a reality TV host and real estate mogul became the leader of one of the most influential countries, similarly, on a more modest scale, migration of careers has become commonplace. Last year, I worked for the Ambassador of Costa Rica and worked towards building better relationships between the two countries, working on sustainability, Trade, and International relations, and now I am building an ecosystem for self-care while integrating the values of sustainability, Internationalisation and research skills accumulated during my previous roles. People called this a courageous move; on the contrary, I did not feel much because this was the necessary progression that was being delayed due to COVID-19. Circumstances and drive put me on the path as a solo founder with a massive vision to ‘delay skin ageing’ globally and understand the effects of climate change on skin ageing and global skincare consumption patterns. However, between the visions and the founder is a path that needs to be traversed without google maps and this can only be accomplished if certain traits have been internalised that keep you on your feet and make you run, fall and fly at the same time.

Find out what is your decompression zone:

Understanding recuperation is necessary; it is a process that allows you to recollect yourself and relaunches you back into the fray with more sharpness. This is different from an exercise like meditation that calms you or makes your thoughts more still; this has to be a zone, where your state of flow is automatically activated. For me, it has always been people, I feed off people’s energy, therefore, put myself in an interactive public setting, and walk back more energised.


We all await the planned breakthrough; those millionth subscribers, Series A, B, X funding, or acceptance at an institution, however, bearing in mind linking expectation to emotion is a fatal mistake. Understand that the necessary breakthrough is essential but there will be many more and the lack thereof should not be the reason for suffering because that may become the downward deflection that will wear you down further and you can’t afford that as an entrepreneur.

Workflow systemisation:

Understand how productivity works for you. Personalised productivity is a game-changer, this is an exercise that will only work with trial and error unless you have already figured it all out. I have come to realise that if the first thing in the morning is the important work for me then my entire day is geared towards progressing on that task.

Understand the limitation of planning through philosophy: In life how many times have your plans worked out as opposed to you making the best of the current situation. Doing mental math of the ratio of planning Vs circumstances to understand plans and goals may not succeed however the lack thereof is certain failure. Therefore make the most of whatever you get in your arsenal at that point in time. Your main tool will be absolute honesty with yourself.

Be self-aware and self-reliant: Promises and external commitments are overhyped. Learn the golden principle: the buck stops at you, takes absolute ownership, and divorces it from opinions and judgments, consciously dissects, and voila you have the way out. Self-reliance and awareness go hand in glove and are essential for intellectual and creative freedom; also your two crutches to create value addition as an entrepreneur.

Be a parrot and cram what defines you and your business: Neuro-linguistic programming has attained a very negative narrative for ‘I don’t know reason’; however if you firmly believe in something and you want to integrate it, be one with it, you would have to repeatedly revisit that thought, learn it, sit with it, waste time with it, build it, make it part of your emotions then only you understand it in its entirety. When you put a strong foundation only then you can be confident with what you are building.


Learning tools are essential: Build an environment that adds more facets to your concept, watch videos, read blogs, and follow series, as I said a concept is like an organism you need to feed constantly with different kinds of nutrition. I will make a nasty confession: I watch Billions because it’s on the same spectrum and sometimes even that adds value. For instance when Bobby says to Lara when she fails to launch her product; ‘What is it you do that you’re the best in the world at? You offer a service you didn’t invent, a formula you didn’t invent, a delivery method you didn’t invent. Nothing about what you do is patentable or a unique user experience. You haven’t identified an isolated market segment, haven’t truly branded your concept. You need me to go on?”. Words of wisdom were spoken and I wrote them down to evaluate and check whether my concept fairs well on all these indicators.

Happiness is doing the right thing at the right time: We chase eternal happiness for what? when we consciously absorb the present and do the right thing we find Bliss. There is no multilayered thesis, it is a simple fact, you do well you feel good everything else just makes you constantly question and look into the abyss.

Founder’s Depression:

It is an arduous journey, most of the time it’s a migration from an employee mindset to a self-assigned leadership role which may occasionally strike one with self-doubt. When this doubt creeps in, remind yourself that you were meant for it because you had the brevity to create this concept, assemble a team, and sacrifice your family and stable finance so that you can add value to society which in itself is a trait of an absolute leader.

Your personal growth is the most rewarding venture paying off dividends every day. Figure out what makes you tick upwards, could be as basic as reading, workouts, and meditations. The goal is to feel better and be rewarded after the activity more than while being in the process. A good analogy for this is; how often you feel rewarded after scrolling through your phone, it is a colourful digital vortex of distraction. On the contrary, reading a good short story may sound arduous at the beginning of habit building, however, when done in completion gives you a lasting dopamine rush that stays up for a longer period. Moreover, everything that adds to your being sets you into a state of lasting dopamine rush and also gives you the fuel to go forward don’t confuse this with taking you forward; there is no interdependence within activities. What you do is what you become! By being good at your job you will be a good employee, by starting and growing a company you will learn to start and grow a company. Being very clear with the societal definitions of failure, unlearning it, and scrapping it, is a positive step toward individual thinking; a must for an entrepreneurial mind.

(The author is an independent analyst on Policy and Sustainability. Twitter: @Alinyst Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited)

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