So I've watched with interest as Odeo, a company started by one of the people who wrote the blogging software I'm using, Blogger, has gone through various stages that are predictable for those who are doing their second ventures after a successful first one.
In a post on the Odeo site, Mr Williams says of Odeo: "We work hard, but keep sane hours (not a sleep-under-your-desk startup), use agile development processes (though we could use a little more), have an office with a view in San Francisco (right next to South Park), tend to prefer Macs (but it's okay if you don't), and are going to change what's in people's ears (and between them)."
This description is filled with hallmarks of the second-time entrepreneur. The first time around he was successful, but success came at a price, he had to submit to the terms of the world, which are harsh. Round the clock days, seven day weeks, no time off, and that's not all. No money. Layoffs. Unhappy users. No revenue (Blogger was a dotcom boom company, without the rich financing). But in the end Williams made millions. Now he's going to have success, again -- he know so much more (really of course he does) but this time he's going to win on his terms. "Sane hours" isn't all they'll do better this time, the office furniture is probably pretty nice, and the location is convenient, and the computers are modern, and the business trips luxurious. Dinners are at nice restaurants.
Everyone is working hard, but are they really? And can you win in business, on your own terms?
Experience says no. To win you have to submit to the lunacy of the crazy world we live in. If you won't push the pedal to the floor, you can bet your competitors will. And while you may be motivated even with cushy surroundings and shorter days, the people you hire will take it as a signal that they can relax too. No one will work harder than the boss. That's one of the unfortunate rules of all organization. So if you're on your hard-earned less-stress route to success, the people you hired are acting like cashed-out second-time entrepreneurs too! They can't avoid it, it's just human nature. Of course they'll be disappointed to find out that when you stop funding the project they'll go back to being poor schnooks, and if you didn't blow all your cash (some people do) you'll still be rich.