Work ≠ Success

Before mentioning the best startup advice I’ve received, I’ll state the worst. One friend, an early employee of a now-successful men’s grooming company, told me, “I’d never want [to be a founder], there’s way too much work!” How ridiculous. Revising that statement, I’d say, “I’d never want to be the founder of a company I’m not passionate about.” Inherent in starting a company is the creation of work. But cultivating something I believe in has been exhilarating, and fun.

During a time when the thought of starting a company like Fortify Rehab was less realistic to me than our president’s hair color, I read the book “Rework,” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeir. Absorbing some of those lessons helped make the process less intimidating, and sparked in me a glimmer of hope. A few takeaways have stuck with me in the few years since I’ve read it.

“The core of your business should be built around things that wont change.”

As a medical student, this aspect of the book inspired me to think about the major health problems many people have, and will continue to have forever. Andrew and I were both horrified at the magnitude of physical decline many of our patients, and grandparents, faced while on bedrest. Aging people are especially vulnerable to this problem, as they cycle in and out of hospitals, permanently losing a portion of their strength and mobility with each bout. Our population is only getting older. And exercise will always be an invaluable way to improve health.

“People like real flowers that wilt, not perfect plastic ones that never change.”

Another major takeaway was to remain confident, especially if you believe in the importance of the problem you are solving for others. Idiosyncrasies should not be hidden, they should be flaunted. We’ve found that the more we tap into the powerful emotions encompassing the issue at hand, the more people respond and are willing to help.

And finally, my favorite:

“Our culture celebrates the idea of the workaholic… not only is it unnecessary it’s stupid. Working more doesn’t mean you care more or get more done. It just means you work more.”

This tenet of the book helped shed the intimidation factor of starting a company for me; it solidified that problems are solved with creativity, and not the brute force of time. Of course, creativity is no substitute for the hours required to pass through the thick brush of red tape in our way. We still have a lot of hacking to do in that respect. That being said, maintaining focus on our ultimate goal (helping people maintain their independence) and the most immediate issues at hand have kept us from getting overwhelmed (for the most part), and have kept this from being “work.”

Will Small of Fortify Rehab