Happy Mayday everyone.
For my friends and peers in the bay area, I hope you are enjoying this beautiful day outside and not at home blogging after spending three hours migrating over to a new framework (ahem.) Not that I'm jealous or anything.
One of the biggest mistakes an entrepreneur can make is to expect that the crazy high that they get during the ideation phase is going to last the entire lifespan of their venture. In fact, although dreaming up big ideas can make "arm-chair" entrepreneurs feel great about themselves, one must realize that the execution phase is going to be filled with pitfalls and challenges that they won't be aware of. It is therefor of great importance that entrepreneurs "Dream Big, and Start Small".
This week, I'm going to focus on dreaming big.
Why do you want to be a entrepreneur in the first place?
- Change the world
- Create something awesome
- Make lots of money and IPO
- Be the boss
If you answered 3 or 4, to be honest, you probably shouldn't be running a startup. In any successful startup it is crucial to have an idea that is visionary. This idea must really have the potential to change the way people think about a certain task. It has to address significant significant pain points, or it has to create a new value proposition that wasn't there before. If you think along the lines of choice 1 or 2, you're most likely thinking of an idea that hasn't been thought of before, or which is so differentiable from an existing product, that it's success would catalyze an exponential growth of the current market. If you think along the lines of decision 3 and 4, then you'll probably be thinking of a way to augment or improve upon existing services.
The latter thought process is a fatal mistake. Why? There is a saying out there that goes something like, "Don't build a faster horse, invent a car". Prior to the invention of the automobile, people would have thought you were crazy if you proposed the idea of an automobile. "Why? Horses are fine right now, and they are, much, much cheaper", and so on and so forth.
Two reasons why making a faster horse is a bad idea.
1. Your product is more indefensible
The end users might cosy up to an old idea much easier, but the idea itself exists already. There is probably also a market leader for the product. It will take them almost no time to take their superior resources and experience in this field to crush you. Adjectives like ('faster, more widgets, better ui') are features and not new products. Corporations can throw money and time at features in order to drive you out of the market. Time and money, coincidentally are exactly what entrepreneurs don't have.
2 Startup is not equal to a small business
Yes, startups are smaller in size, like small businesses. They also typically have to deal with all of the things small businesses have to resolve , such as hiring, business plans and etc. The key differentiator between a startup and a small business is growth potential and speed. Startups are extremely volatile, high-risk ventures which flame out in a spectacular fashion most of the time. Small businesses aim to be sustainable and move down the growth curve at a sensible, natural pace. There are advantages to both. Small businesses are much more stable, whereas startups, though dangerous, promise the possibility of changing the world as well as gaining recognition and wealth. If you only have a faster horse, then you can't honestly expect to experience meteoritic growth, and therefor, you probably won't be convincing any investors or partners to invest/work in your startup. (Although the same analogy might work perfectly for someone looking to found a regular small business)
Therefor, when just starting up, don't be afraid to reach for the stars. Dream big, and be confident in yourself. After you've written down what you want your startup to eventually be, then prepare to roll up your sleeves and enter the trenches.
Next week: Starting Small.