As opposed to death by 1000 paper cuts, you can make a living by 1000 paper folds.
There are many entrepreneurs claiming you need work all day every day for years. That works too. That is just trying to cram the work into a shorter time frame.
You can also work very very slow at a steady pace. One pebble at a time to build the wall. A moat from a single bucket of water at time. whatever you want to imagine.
Joe Rogan built his media empire (and many other early podcasters) by just slowing put out one video a week without fail for decades. I have now seen many Youtubers who put out a video a month without fail and got to 1 million subscribers.
At 1 million, it is typically enough to earn a living on and then some.
It isn’t just about pacing yourself. You get to build off your previous work. Your best cofounder can be yourself in the past.
I have made tiny improvements on projects over time. When I look at them years later, so much work has been put into it. This likely works better for creative fields, where your personality and body of work amplifies who you are.
But I think it is also effective for start ups. My own accomplishments have made it easier to start things later. People far more successful than I have more trust in me and have given offers to work together.
I have also now seen enough projects that people threw together and slowly added to succeed given enough time. Typically they are only noticed 8 years later when and seen as an “overnight” success from the rapid growth that comes immediately after. The founder of Product Hunt says his overnight success only took him 1,834 days.
I have also seen a number of extremely promising projects die when they are so close to that take off period.
A friend from high school was inventing a new kind of entertainment / instrument and a decent Patreon of $300 a month for a couple years. It was barely enough to live on in even the poorest parts of the USA, but it was enough to live on. He killed it all though, saying the growth had been flat for a long time now. He didn’t see a way out.
There are many Youtubers who flatlined around 300,000 subscribers as well. It is probably disheartening to see others pass them by within 2 videos within a single month. 300,000 is an incredible number though. If they decide to start again from 0, even that number will seem impossible.
The hardest part is that the people who are in the middle of these things only need to take a look around them to get jealous. They have a peer group who took the safe route and are now making far more money and seem more “successful at life” while they are wondering why they are toiling away on this thing that might never work out.
I myself have looked at friends who program at a full time job and hear how crazy their salaries keep growing to. Comparison is the thief of joy though. I know they could look at what I have been doing and say the same thing. I don’t have to wake up 8am or commute to an office. If you make enough to live or even a bit below that, then there really isn’t anything to compare yourself to.
Just give it enough time, keep steadily folding.