“How is business going?”

Almost every day I pump into someone (a friend, a fellow entrepreneur, someone I don’t even know) and they ask me “how is business going?”. It’s a very tricky question to ask for a startup founder. Things at a startup are 90% of the time going bad. I used to hide from my parents to avoid answering this question!

So how to answer this question?

99% of the answers I get if I personally asked this question to another founder “very well” or “Great!”, then after few months I hear that the startup is shutting down!!  I used to do the same, my answer was always “great” but now I changed. My answer depends on who is asking me the question.

If an entrepreneur is asking me then I tell the truth as it is, I usually answer “it sucks” at difficult times. You need to understand that a founder will actually not be happy to know that you are doing great while his startup is falling apart. Even if your startup is doing amazing and the founder of a startup that is doing bad asks you “how is business” tell him “is doing ok”.

Its a tough life and we as entrepreneurs only have each other to talk to because the rest of the world just don’t get how difficult our life is. If you said you are doing fantastic then the conversation is stopped here and the person will do the same and the conversion is done. But if you said “trying to stay alive” the conversation will be different and he will probably say “same here” and you will start talking about your struggles, at least you’ll not feel lonely.

As I said my reply depends on who I’m talking to, below some examples:
My parents: Very good
Non-entrepreneur friends: all good, we did this and we did that, things are very promising
Investors: amazing, soon will be millionaires
Startup founders: sucks, surviving, trying to stay alive, ok, not bad

Next time a fellow entrepreneur asks you how is things, its ok to tell him that things are pretty bad, you’ll both feel good about it.

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