Beware of Unnatural Acts Leading to Startup Team Burnout

Recently I was meeting with an executive from a startup talking about lessons learned. She recounted the story of a startup she joined that was doing was well and kept raising more and more money. After a substantial series D round, the bar was set so high for revenue growth by the investors that the executive team knew it wasn’t attainable. Against the odds, the startup was able to deliver and meet the expectations for a short period of time.

There was one major problem.

She described their meeting revenue growth targets as requiring “unnatural acts” meaning the team was working 80 hours per week and rapidly approaching burnout. It wasn’t sustainable. Unfortunately, the entrepreneur had promised the investors they could achieve certain results. After two quarters of hitting the numbers, the wheels fell off. The startup’s growth slowed considerably, the market shifted, most of the executive team left, including the entrepreneur, and the venture-back startup is in zombie mode now.

Beware of unnatural acts leading to startup team burnout as it isn’t sustainable.

What else? What are your thoughts on unnatural acts resulting in burnout?

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