Over the past 20+ years mentoring, advising, and investing in startup founders (and being one, too), I’ve come to believe in the principle that if you find yourself having to force things too much, then you may be on a fool’s errand. Startups are so ridiculously hard even in the most favorable conditions. Even startups with a great team, a great product in a great market, with customers and revenue and seemingly unstoppable traction, can still struggle and fail.

This is not to say that founders shouldn’t pursue their vision aggressively. They should. But not because of some heroic notion that you should never take “no” for an answer or that great founders need to plow through barriers to get to success. Rather, they need to go at it aggressively because time is their enemy and the clock is ticking — as Brad and David so aptly put it, founders need must “do more faster.”

Yes, founders sometimes need to chase a “yes” and plow through barriers. Invariably it will sometimes feel like you need to force things as a founder. After all, innovation naturally faces resistance — from people who don’t understand or who think you’re wrong and from incumbents who’s business models you may be upending.

But for founders facing headwinds the whole way, the odds are not good. The winds build slowly and gather strength only gradually. Like the proverbial frog in the slowly boiling pot of water, it’s easy for a founder to miss the signs and end up in a bad place.

If your startup feels like a nearly-constant struggle, be careful. The universe (i.e., customers, trends, mentors, investors) may be trying to tell you something — i.e., that you might not be as right as you thinkā€¦ or that you are just too early (or too late), or that you have some fundamental flaw that you need to fix.

So what’s a founder to do? In my experience, the answer is not to work harder, or to be more persistent, or more passionate, or more tenacious, or aggressive or any of the other platitudes we use to describe what is a “good founder.”

At a minimum, don’t whistle past the graveyard. Take a step back. Have frank and fierce conversations with your most trusted and experienced advisors. Do they see anything you’re missing? If you don’t have any advisors that ‘pack the gear’, then reach out to some Startup Haven members for help. There are plenty who would love to lend a hand.

Whatever you do, don’t succumb to an unreflective belief that you must keep going no matter how hard it gets and no matter what anyone else says. In this respect, Steve Jobs did a disservice to startup founders by popularizing the notion that true innovators should not be deterred by the skepticism or criticism of others. Bullpucky.

Here is a quick link to learn more about speaking to our Startup Haven Mentors and Advisors using our Office Hours Program (*beta)