Getting to "yes" in a world of "no"…

People like to invest so much time looking at the upside of entrepreneurship that there isn’t really much of a vocabulary for the downsides: not only for the collapsed companies, but also for the sadness of startups that do get funded. Because of the lack of competition for deals, one dirty little secret here in the UK is that many startups get funded under such abusive terms that personal disaster for the entrepreneurs involved is almost inevitable. But nobody wants to mention that, let alone coin a phrase for it.

Anyway, one fine September 19th I held a party in my garden to celebrate International Speak Like a Pirate Day: and so went looking for pirate-themed music to entertain my guests. One track in particular – Pirate Bones by Natasha Bedingfield – really stood out for me, and has done ever more so as life in my shady corner of Startup Land has developed (I hesitate to say “progressed” with a straight face).

I couldn’t find correct lyrics for it anywhere on the Internet (and having written over 200 songs myself, I should point out that they’re technically high quality stuff), so here they are. Do they describe your experience as an entrepreneur?

Pirate Bones – Natasha Bedingfield
[From “Pocketful of Sunshine” (2007)]

What if I squeeze myself into any shape / And I still don’t fit?
What if I bend myself so much that I break / And I can’t mend it?
What if I burn so bright that the fire goes out / And I can’t stay lit?
What’s the point in it?

I could get good at crying crocodile tears / Just to get along
I could carry on telling you what you wanna hear / ’til my voice is gone
But if I finally get to the place that I think is home / And I don’t belong
What’s the point in it? / Where’s the benefit?
When I’m gaining all but I’m losing it

It’s not worth having / If it’s too much to hold
You can dig so deep / That you’re left with a hole
Thirsty in a desert with a bag full of gold
Don’t wanna end up like pirate bones
What I thought was treasure’s just a pile of stones
I might have had the treasure but I’d be laying alone
Just a pile of pirate bones
If I forfeit my soul it ain’t worth having
If it’s something I stole it ain’t worth having

What if I stake everything I am on a dream / And it’s counterfeit?
If I reach the end that justifies the means / Could I live with it?
And if it’s true that having too much of any good thing / Can only make me sick
What’s the point in it / Where’s the benefit
When I’m gaining all but I’m losing it

[Repeat Chorus]

It’s not worth that much to me / If losing out is what it means
To swim in shallow victory / Is empty, empty
It’s just not worth the price / It’s only a fool’s paradise
If it’s draining every drop of life till I’m dry like pirate bones

[Repeat Chorus]

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