You Know It Don’t Come Easy

Posted: January 4, 2015 by Bill Cunningham in Culture, People, Startup

bill-cunningham Got to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues

And you know it don’t come easy”

ringoRingo Starr penned these words for his first solo hit back in 1971 which made the #4 spot on Billboard pop charts. The song highlights many parallels between the music business and startups. Founders all must pay their dues, forgoing the easy road or the obvious choice so they may “swing for the fences” with their startup.

Young founders have a difficult time understanding this because prospective investors want to know how the startup is going to become a home run. The main reason investors invest their money in startups is to get that home run. The opportunity to have a huge ROI on your investment (to cover all the lesser returns) is part of the emotional makeup of early stage investors.

Young founders, however, do not have battle scars or experience of more mature founders. On the other hand, mature founders find it difficult to begin paying dues after being in the workforce for 10 or 20 or more years. In either case, entrepreneurs must convincingly present their view as the right mix of passion, experience and opportunity to appeal to investors, suppliers and, of course, the customers.

I recently discussed this with Mark Friedman, one of the writers of “Tenderly” that is now enjoying a sold out run at Playhouse in the Park. He and his partner, Janet Vogt, wrote musicals for 9 years before they started to get traction. They worked their day jobs all while working nights and weekends to create many, many musicals. Finally, one of their works has taken off and played in over 570 theaters on 3 continents. They have paid their dues.

Ringo continues his tribute (to entrepreneurs) with “Forget about the past and all your sorrow. The future won’t last. It will soon be your tomorrow.

If you are planning to launch a startup, work for a startup or invest in a startup, then you need to be all about the future. The only reason to relive the past is to learn from any mistakes or complications you have met. Then you must “Let It Go” (Watch the Disney musical Frozen if you can’t remember that line.) The past is a valuable teaching tool and compass, but you can’t change history — only the future. In today’s technology world, the future won’t last – you must keep innovating and listening to your customers or you will fade into oblivion.


Ringo continues with “I don’t ask for much, I only want your trust. And you know it don’t come easy.” Trust is the biggest reason in making investment decisions – both by the investor and the entrepreneur. Investors have to believe that all the information and plans are authentic, genuine and believable. Entrepreneurs must trust the investors to support them financially as well as intellectually and emotionally. The trust factor is the number one issue in investing.

Finishing up with “Open up your heart, let’s come together. Use a little luck, and we will make it work out better.”   Investors and entrepreneurs need to work together. If you believe that you make your own luck, then what better team is there to make that happen.

Read other Cincinnati entrepreneurial thought leader ideas at

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