Happy Entrepreneur Holiday
This episode is a heartfelt holiday wish to all you current and aspiring entrepreneurs from Precursa CEO Cynthia Del’Aria. If you’re struggling to balance your company priorities and your family, Cynthia offers some wisdom and insight that will help you navigate the season with no regrets and lots of connection with those nearest and dearest to you. From all of us at Precursa, happy holidays and a very happy new year.
This episode of the show is a special message and heartfelt wish from Cynthia Del’Aria to you, our favorite current and aspiring entrepreneurs. We talk about the challenge and the luxury of slowing down for the holidays and how to balance that with your priorities as you’re building a startup. We discuss the importance of family, friends, and reflection during this time of year and the opportunity in endings and beginnings as we close out 2021 in preparation for ringing in 2022. This is a time for reassessment, making changes, recommitting to your why and your vision, and setting yourself up for prosperity and success in the coming months.
All of that can be difficult to balance with the expectations versus realities of the holidays, when families come together, and there is often a mix of joy and sadness, love and pain. Cynthia shares her own struggles in this area and offers wisdom to help you navigate it all so that you come into the new year whole and with no regrets.
From all of us here at Precursa, happy holidays and a very happy new year. See you in 2022!
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Straight to you from Denver, Colorado, this is Precursa: The Startup Journey. We share the ins and outs of building a tech startup from inception, to launch, to revenue and beyond. If you’ve ever wondered what building a startup from scratch really looks like, you’re in the right place. With full transparency and honesty, we reveal it all about Precursa on our ride from idea to exit: the wins, the lessons learned, and the unexpected twists and turns.
Hello everybody. And welcome back. This is Precursa: The Startup Journey and it is that time of the year supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. And the reality is a lot of things seem to kind of slow down and we as entrepreneurs, we don’t really do that. And we don’t, what I’m gonna say is we don’t give ourselves the luxury of the down now, depending on what stage your company’s at, depending on what stage your idea is at, you may or may not be able to do that. Here’s the thing. This is going to be there tomorrow. It’s gonna be there next week. It’s gonna be there then next month, next year, the only thing that’s ever gonna stop your company for being there is you saying that it’s done family. That may not be the case and taking time with friends, taking time to reflect.
One of my favorite things about this time of year is we, humans are creatures of beginnings and endings, right? We look forward to the beginning of things. We get excited about the opportunity, something when it’s first starting and we celebrate the ends of things. We celebrate graduations. We celebrate graduation is the end of something. And the beginning of something, a wedding is the beginning of something. We create customs and rituals to celebrate finishing something and starting something new. And the end of the year is a natural, almost built in opportunity to do that. And as an entrepreneur, as someone with a tech idea, as someone who wants to build something, who’s trying to create something. This is the best opportunity you have all year to recommit realign, or change your word, or figure out that you wanna do something different. So what I’m telling you to do is to take the opportunity.
It’s very easy as an entrepreneur to get spun up around, I have to get this done. I am driving towards these deadlines, but it’s also very easy to forget that you are the one that said that was important. You’re the one that set those boundaries or needs or whatever that is, right? So nothing is so important that you can’t take a couple of days to step back, reassess, understand what’s changed, make a plan and figure out how to execute on that plan. And this is the perfect time to do that. The reality is this is a very difficult time of year for a lot of people, right? And, and I struggle with this because, you know, I didn’t grow up with a lot of money. I didn’t grow up with a lot of things. And so this perception of the perfect hallmark holiday makes me sad because of never really had that.
I mean, even in the last 11 years that I’ve been with David and we’ve had his, his kids every other year, there’s still always that something’s off or it doesn’t go perfectly, or the food gets burned or, you know, I mean, it can be a silly thing or it can be dramatic as there’s a family issue or, you know, a death in the family. We had that a co a few years ago when David’s mom passed away in November. And you know, that’s, the reality is life is happening. It’s going to keep happening. And as much as I tell you that this company, this venture has to be your safe focus. If it’s going to be successful, you are the only one who can prioritize what needs to be prioritized in any given moment. And the benefit of this wonderful and wacky and wild and crazy time of the year is a lot of people are taking a step back.
People take a lot of big people take, you know, companies take weeks off sometimes. I mean, I’ve worked with companies that have an entire moratorium on the, on the time between Thanksgiving and the first of the year, because they just know that there’s not gonna be enough people around to get stuff done reliably. Right? I encourage you. I encourage you, whatever you think you have going from a deadline perspective, from a drive to market perspective, from a sales perspective, find some time to step back and reflect to put off the to-do list, to be with the people around you, whatever that looks like for you, whether that’s friends, whether it’s family, whether it’s an orphan Christmas, you know, or going to your local food kitchen, whatever that is for you, make time, push your to-do list back again. I promise you they’re still gonna be there.
If you have clients that are expecting something, set new agreements with them, because you can’t do anything. You are never going to be productive. If you’ve spent years driving, driving, driving, driving, driving yourself and your team and everything else and never taking a step back. Now, the reality is I encourage people to do this at least once a quarter, take a couple of days, set aside the to-do list. Reassess, where are we now? What, what do we know that we didn’t? When we first did our plan for the year what’s changed, how do we need to address those changes? How do we need to be flexible and agile and all those things. But the end of the year is unique because everyone’s, you know, 2021 is coming to an end 2022 is about to start. Everyone knows that that’s a big deal and everyone’s celebrating it.
I mean, new year’s Eve is one of the biggest times that people celebrating and are together throughout the year. This is the opportunity to take some time. Now, a few years ago, I had a client who was rushing to get a bunch of stuff out to his customers by Christmas, trying to fill orders, fill boxes, put, you know, make sure that people had stuff under their trees for December 20. And so you might be in that situation and say, well, Cynthia, yeah, I get it. You know what? Christmas day to new year’s day nobody’s expecting anything from you. If you didn’t get it to them by by Christmas Eve so that it could be under the tree an extra week, isn’t really gonna matter. So the way that you do this, the way that you can be effective with giving yourself time to reflect and giving yourself time to re-energize and giving yourself time to reconnect both, to reconnect to yourself, but also reconnect to your why and your passion reconnect to your family.
Because the reality is you aren’t doing this simply to build a company. Your why? The thing that we talk about all the time, the why is that’s bigger than you. That why is outside of typically for most people I talked to has very little to do with the company, the company’s a vehicle for it. And, you know, we talked to Shanna a couple of weeks ago about not getting to attached to the execution. And when we are in a space of driving towards something, driving awards, getting orders out by Christmas, driving towards whatever, whatever the thing is for you. That’s about execution. This time of year is the time to reconnect to your why maybe it’s gotten lost. Maybe you’ve been so much in the details or, you know, we at Precursa or fundraising, right? We’ve talked a lot about this this year, but you know, we had a conversation this morning and we’re doing a big planning session and we are taking off from Christmas Eve until the first Monday in January, which I think is the third and not, not pushing anything during that timeframe.
Right? We had a conversation about, Hey, we’re, we’ve been driving towards these artificial deadlines. Who are they really for? You know, we don’t, we don’t have investors on the hook that are driving us for something we don’t have. You know, we’ve got a lot of users who are really excited, but we’re all also finding ways to support them in the meantime, in exchange for them, helping us get the word out when it’s time. So any deadlines that we’ve put out there are artificial. And here’s the thing. Even if you have real ones, communication is the key. You know, I know we talked about this in a previous episode, but it’s still true, which is, is communicating with customers, with clients, with vendors, with your family. Communication is the way that you can level set the way that you can reset the way that you can create new agreements.
Maybe that’s what’s needed for you is you made an agreement. And you’re now realizing you’re driving yourself into the, and you’re really unhappy or you’re, or you’re not sleeping or whatever it is, make a new agreement and all takes to make a new agreement is to get in communication. You might need to apologize for having to overestimated or underestimated yourself. You might need to come up with a strategy for how to deliver on the new agreement, but it arts with getting in communication and being willing to say what works, you know, don’t, don’t say, just give me another week when really what you need is a month because you’re just gonna drive yourself crazy. And a week later you’re gonna be having the same conversation again. That’s what this time, the opportunity of this time is the opportunity of the holidays. Opportunity of a new year is to sit down and reevaluate and make commitments that actually work.
Here’s the thing, your commitments that you give, that’s your word you said, right? But here’s the thing you said. So if you, if you said the wrong thing, or if it doesn’t work, or if it isn’t doing what you need it to do, say something different and it just takes getting in communication. So today is Christmas Eve. This is going out on Christmas Eve. My wish for are you, my fellow entrepreneurs is that you find a way this year and in the new year, and going forward to increase the amount of joy in your life increase. The amount of love in your life increase the amount of happiness in your life, the amount of contentment in your life, but that you never be satisfied that you and not from a place of driving yourself, but from a place of who can I help. Next entrepreneurs are such a special group of people.
If you are thinking about being an entrepreneur or you are an entrepreneur, you are a business owner, you are special because you see problems in a way that a lot of people in the world don’t, you see problems and you find solutions. You help people, you make the world better. You make commerce better, you drive economies, you create new things. You invent that is something to be celebrated. And no matter where you are in that journey, I don’t care if you just found this podcast yesterday. And you’re like, I don’t know if I have any idea for anything. The fact that you’re here and you’re listening and you’re engaged in the process with us at Precursa. It’s special. You in order to be a successful entrepreneur, to be a successful founder, you need to find a way to honor what is special and find a way to create habits, ceremonies, rituals, whatever you wanna call it around, giving yourself the space and the time and the freedom to recommit, to change your word, to celebrate, to mourn and grieve, because these are things that all somehow fall by the wayside for all entrepreneurs.
When we are working so hard and driving so hard and making stuff happen and all the things we set, all of that aside, we are very good at com compartmentalizing. And I’m saying, you need to take time. The end of the year is a great time to do it. Like I said, because other people are taking that time too. It would not be weird. Anyone, if you said, I mean, you know, our UX designer, Natalie, who we heard from a couple weeks ago, she’s phenomenal. We love her. She said, you know, kind of timidly, Hey, I’m gonna take off the week between Christmas and new year’s. Is that okay? And I’m like, yes, <laugh> you should do that. You have a brand new baby. This is his first Christmas. This is, you know, you absolutely should do that. Why is it that we feel like we need to ask permission?
Why is it that we feel like it’s too luxurious, that we should do that. So I want you to find ways to create those rituals, create those ceremonies, create, create space for yourself and whoever is in your life, however you experience holidays and whoever you surround yourself with be present, be in those moments. You know, the reality is we’ve got some family stuff going on this year and it’ll be really exciting because my family is here this year for the first time, you know, in, in, in completion, my brother-in-law my sister, my niece, you know, everybody’s here, but we’ve also got some pretty traumatic stuff going on in our family right now related to family members who are ill and who are struggling. And it would be really easy for me to escape into work and make that more important to avoid, to avoid all the emotions, the joy of having my only here and the pain of, of watching a family member suffer.
And you know, the joy of having our kids here, but also the pain of knowing that they’re growing up. And this is our last Christmas with my stepdaughter. And the next time she would be with us, she’ll be in college, you know, and, and that as much as that’s a joy and that’s exactly how it’s host a work, it’s also painful because I miss her when she’s not here. So it would be very easy. It would be incredibly easy to make work a priority and get lost in work because that’s easier than experiencing all of the feelings, right? I just encourage you. Don’t, don’t let these moments pass you by embrace them, hold them close to you, give them the presence and the time and the space that they deserve.
Because like I said, your company will be here as long as you keep working on it. And as long as you keep saying that, it will be, it will be. And that’s not how it works with people. People come and go, people are born, people die. Those are the things of which regret is made. So my wish are you <laugh> this holiday season is that you have no regrets. And my advice to you as a coach and consultant for entrepreneurs and startups is no regrets comes with being present, being willing, to feel and experience and acknowledge all of the things, whether they are wonderful and fitting for this time of year or not. And that you not neglect your own health, wellbeing, mental sanity, all the things and sacrifice everything for your company. And I know this sounds like it flies in the face of <laugh> of other advice. I’ve given where your company has to be your singular focus and that’s true, but family comes first. You are part of your family. You come first, if you aren’t, well, if you aren’t present, if you aren’t whole, if you, if there are things that you are avoiding or if ignoring or not dealing with that is going to become a problem for your company, it will impact your ability to lead. It will impact how you view how others in your company handle their personal lives and the things that are going on for them.
And, and you need to set a better example than that in your company. You know, people are looking to you, whether you realize this or not, people are looking to you to set the tone for what’s okay. What’s appropriate. When they’re permission. What they’re looking for is what do you expect of me? What do you expect of yourself? Because if I can’t live up to that, people will start to check out. They can only go for so long making your vision happen. So be a great leader. Part of being a great leader is setting the example for self care setting. The example for family comes first, setting the example for being present. When it matters, setting the example, that important things within our company will get handled. And we can rely on each other to do that for us when we can’t it ourselves. And again, there’s parts to it.
The first part is communication. It’s getting in communication. It’s saying the things that need to be said, it’s talking to the people that you need to make new agreements with. Another piece of that, which actually comes before the communication piece is what works for me. What’s right for me, what’s right in the small moment. What, what am I willing to recommit to? And then getting in communication about it. And then the third is following through and being willing to stay in the moment, even when it’s hard, even when it’s 90 to 95% of this holiday season will be wonderful. It will be amazing. The kids are gonna be here where my family’s gonna be here. David’s family’s gonna be here. Like, it’s gonna be wonderful, right? Where we decorated house for Christmas, which looks great. And it makes me so happy and it makes David so happy and it will be wonderful.
But for the times that it’s not, or the times that we have to deal with the difficult things, staying present, staying there, the things that there are to be said so that when we get back into the grind and all the things that there are to be done, we don’t have any regrets. We don’t carry around with us. So I wish I would’ve said this, or I wish I would’ve done that, or I wish I hadn’t let that moment slide, cuz it’s a very unique opportunity when, when there isn’t a lot of other distraction, if you don’t let there be. And you know, when you’re hearing this come from me, that it comes from my heart and nowhere else, because I, like I said, I’m the first person to throw myself into work as a way of avoiding and all the things. Right. And I know that for human beings, there’s a missing in that.
So I promise you can make new commitments. I promise you can change commitments. You’ve already made. I promise your clients and your, your employees while there may be disappointment, I promise you can survive disappointment. And I promise that they will be okay, take the time, take the time. I can’t stress it enough. Take the time. Like I said, at Precursa, we’re gonna take Christmas Eve through. So the 24th of December through, I believe it’s the 3rd of January. We’re gonna come back 3rd of January, that first, Monday and January rare in Togo. Right? And during this time between now and then we’re making a plan, we’re getting sign off from the team on the plan, which includes the timeline. We’re asking people to look and make sure that how we’re working is really working for them. Do we need to make new agreements and we’re planning and we know more now than we did at the beginning of the year when we started this effort and we’re going to use that knowledge to keep making sure that we are on and taking care of the people around us because that’s how Precursa ultimately is successful and ultimately gets built.
Now here’s the thing. It would be easy to say, oh, there’s only like seven or eight of us or it’s actually trying to count the other day. I think, I think there’s eight of us. Why does this matter? It’s such a ti, it’s such a small group of people. Culture get set from the beginning. You will never have as good of an opportunity to define and be committed to a culture as you do in the beginning of your company. Cuz I can promise you when there’s 20 people, it’s a lot harder to shift the culture when there’s 50 people, it’s a lot harder. If you’ve got thousand people in your organization, it’s almost impossible. So if you think about how you want to create this company, how you want to honor, not just your customers, but your employees, your contractors, your vendors, your executive team yourself.
If you think about that now and build that into the bed, into the framework, into the fabric of your company from the beginning, I promise you, you will have the kind of company you wanna work for for a very long time. So we do it now. We didn’t have this conversation last Christmas because it, there wasn’t anything to have a conversation about last Christmas, Paige and Sarah and I were just kind of starting to formulate what was the execution strategy? You know, we knew that we had a product and we knew that we had CU we had product market fit and we knew that we had customers and, but we didn’t have a team and we weren’t building anything. And there was no deadline to be driving to. Now there is, but it’s all made up. And the that’s the thing you gave your word, you said, say something different, make a new agreement and get in communication about it, but make it be one that you, that works for you.
And you might have to get input from other people to, to negotiate a little bit about what works for everyone. You may have to may a culpa. <laugh>, you know, you may have to fall on the sword and apologize and say, man, I just got a little bit in over my head, but I’d like to make it right. I’d like to make a new commitment and I’d like it to, for both of us. How can we do that? That’s okay. These are all skills that in the grand scheme of building a company, like the one you want to build, these are all skills that will be invaluable to you and you will need them. And you will be glad that you learn them now because the larger your company gets the bigger the Maya culpas are sometimes cuz there’s always gonna be those cuz sometimes you’re, you know, you’re just gonna give your word to things that are bigger than you.
And then you’re gonna run up against the gap between here and there. And sometimes you’ll traverse it wonderfully. And sometimes you won’t. So take the time, do the planning, do the strategize, be present whoever the important people are in your life or whatever those relationships are, prioritize them, be present and give yourself the gift of no regret. Give yourself the gift of transparency and honesty and no regret. You know, the spirit of this whole podcast is there’s a lot of, there are a lot of myths about what it looks like to build a startup and what that journey looks like and the glamor of it and the overnight success and blah, blah, blah. The reality is precursive journey. Very, very typical, very typical. You know, maybe it’s taken us a little bit longer to raise money than some people, but we’re also a lot further ahead in a very, in a shorter period of time than other companies, right?
It’s very, very typical. And in the spirit of transparency and honesty, we, we are a lot on this podcast and I do it because I don’t want you to have any regrets. I don’t want you walking around thinking, oh, it should be a different way. Or why doesn’t my journey. Look like that thing I heard about on how I built this or this other podcast, where in 35 minutes, they’re recounting going for my idea to billion dollar company. And it’s because whatever it is that you wanna build, whatever that thing is that you wanna tackle, it doesn’t exist today.
And creating something new is divine and it takes the time that it takes and it takes the will that it takes. And all of that comes from being present in the moment and, and listening to yourself and taking time. So this holiday season, we are very grateful for you as listeners, as future users. We wish you all of the wonderful things, Merry Christmas, happy Hanukah, Mary Kwanza, whatever you’re celebrating. And we look forward to seeing in the new year, refreshed, rejuvenated re-energized and ready to continue on your startup journey. So with that, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, a very happy holidays, a very happy new year, and I will see all soon.
Thank you for listening to this episode of Precursa: The Startup Journey. If you have an idea for a startup and you want to explore the proven process of turning your idea into a viable business, check us out at precursa.com. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts so you never miss an episode. Until next time…