I spent about a year planning and building Sifter. We launched, and I’ve now spent about two years running and supporting it. In my personal opinion, launching was easy. Things didn’t become truly challenging until Sifter was live. That’s not to say that launching is easy, but in my experience, sustaining the effort after launch is significantly more challenging. Fortunately, though, it’s more rewarding as well.

Starting is the fun part. Starting is about working entirely on creating something out of passion and love. There aren’t customers to support. Downtime and bugs in live code don’t have true consequences. It’s a time of unlimited hope and enthusiasm. It’s a blank slate without existing burdens or code debt. There are road bumps in the beginning, but that’s all they are. Bumps. There’s very little that can truly go wrong until it’s in the wild. That’s when fortitude is necessary.

Sustaining requires fortitude. Sustaining is about much more than creating. Sustaining means supporting customers, managing financials, improving performance, and minimizing downtime. Of course, all of that has to happen while continuing to create and improve and grow. Sustaining involves waking up in the middle of the night and simply not sleeping at all other nights. Sustaining means receiving un-filtered criticism from real people and still believing. Sustaining means never really being on vacation.

Despite all of this, managing Sifter has at the same time been the single most stressful, rewarding, time-consuming, exciting, anxious, overwhelming, and thrilling project with which I’ve ever been involved. The scariest part is that I think we’re only getting started.