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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Kraft

Death Brings Clarity - Founders: Stop the Fake Work in Your Startup

When founders reach the end of their runway, we see a significant shift in their priorities. Deals, costs, and cash become central, and strategy or mental fitness often slip into the background. Survival mode is on.

This confrontation with the brutal truth of startup life can be a healthy shock, but it shouldn't be a surprise. A startup is all about survival.


Building a startup is like racing toward a cliff while building a bridge with blazing wildfires chasing behind you. Either you get the bridge in place in time, or you will crash and die.

Successful founders share one quality: Focus. They don't waste time on fake work but are laser-focused on what contributes to their startup's success. Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI and former president of YCombinator, summarized it well: "The main problem is [...] instead of relentlessly focusing on building a great product and growing, they focus on everything else."

Fake work is like sugar.

Fake work is like sugar. It feels great, but before you know it, you can't live without it. A simple test to address this is to measure the results of the activities on your calendar.


Networking: How many real deals did you secure at your last networking event?

Marketing: How many meetings did you book with your latest social post?

Tool: What incremental cash flow did your latest tool or "hack" generate?

Building a startup is like racing toward a cliff while building a bridge with blazing wildfires chasing behind you. Either you get the bridge in place in time, or you will crash and die.


Crashing is neither good nor bad, just a simple fact of (startup) life. It doesn't even define how good you are as a leader. As the founder, you may not control the destination of your business, but you control how to prioritize your time.


Don't waste your time!

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