Startups are on everyone’s mind today. There are more publications dedicated to chronicle startup growth than ever. There are meetups, accelerators, incubators, and mentorship programs. There conferences built around startups. Startup owners and entrepreneurs get all the help they need and practically any information they seek.
Yet there’s a problem but with this rush hour traffic here. There’s something amiss. God forbid if it’s your soul.
Startups are almost a lifestyle. That lifestyle comes at a price. Is it the right kind of lifestyle? Are there checks and balances in place? Is there something startup entrepreneurs shouldn’t miss?
When Eric Markowitz wondered if start-up events were getting too big for their own good, I was compelled to read the entire post and I found this:
“Startup Alley has a collegiate-like feel. Picture rush week during freshman year of college, or a job fair on steroids. Founders compete for attention, so there’s a fair bit of theater involved.”
One glance at true entrepreneurial stories and I can’t help but get pulled by gravity. Entrepreneurship is an exciting, adrenaline-pumping, and self-validated wild ride.
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get pushed into this maddening crowd of startups, the enthusiasm, and the crazy belief that you are already successful. An anonymous post from Startup Anonymous, with thanks from Pando Daily, believes that there’s another side to the coin.
STARTUP GOOD, HYPE BAD
I am all for entrepreneurship. I live that life. Yet it’s hard to come to terms to the fact that most of the startup hype is unwarranted. Just as it’s true for most things, the pressure isn’t conducive to startup growth.
As if startup growth wasn’t hard enough, the pressure only adds to journey. Pretty soon, the reality sinks in. The excitement fades. The honeymoon period, so to speak, is over sooner than you think.
Cut the hype out. Just focus on the business. That adrenaline rush is a crazy thing, which often makes you go stupid. David Hassell speculates that it could even make you go adrift. You might lose sight of your goals and stray far from your vision.
If it’s just about making money for you, make decisions that ease you into the journey. Put in the work to steer your startup to exactly where you want it to go; make sure you don’t allow the world to chart out the trajectory for you.
This is entrepreneurship 101. The sooner you absorb this, the easier your journey is going to be.
WHAT YOU WANT VS. WHAT’S IN VOGUE
The startup life is hard. It’s just that it’s not as hard as it’s made out to be. All those sleepless nights, the relentless growth accompanied by hungry scaling, the funding, the pursuit for user or client growth – all of this was supposed to be a personal choice.
It all starts with questions such as: What do I really want? Why am I doing this? What do I get out of this startup? How much money will I make? If I do make money, how much of it do I really want?
OPERATIONS: HARD OR EASY?
Once you answer your questions, it’s time put everything together. It’s about doing the “do” to get where you want. Now, this part is called operations and to do that well, you just have to smart.
Startup operations can be as easy or as difficult as you like. You could go traditional and make it hard on yourself. You could, alternatively, go smart and use technology to make things better.
For instance, you can achieve super-streamlined processes where half of what you need to deliver products or services can either be semi-automated, fully automated, or outsourced. Whatever doesn’t fit the bill can find technology that makes it easier and more efficient for you.
For instance, on a basic level, you could easily set up an ecommerce store to sell your products and keep your business virtual using online retail software such as Shopify. Moving forward to a plane of advanced automation, you can configure online actions based on certain triggers with a service such as IFTTT and Zapier. These allow you to be operational while asleep (or busy) by connecting the numerous apps startups need to use with Zen-like precision.
If technology isn’t replacing people, it’s making processes better. It’s changing the way you do business. It speeds up your processes, makes them more efficient, and allows you to run your business like you never did before.
You can go and do your startup dance. You could choose to get consumed by the hype and imbibe yourself with this unquenchable drive to hit the pinnacle of success. As Erika Trautman set it straight on Entrepreneur.com: your startup won’t mean a thing if you can’t justify it with real results.
You could do anything you want but it all boils down to fundamentals. Who do you have in your team? What have been the sales for the last few months/years? What’s your revenue? What are your profits? How easy is it to find people to work with you? Do you have channels developed for marketing, for growth?
The reason why I mention this is because too many startup entrepreneurs are spraying the wrong spots on the wall. Mentions on popular magazines and online publications, press releases and media traction would all mean nothing if the whole shebang isn’t putting a dollar back into your business operations.
Don’t get blinded by the “ooh-ah idea” that you thought had potential. Ideas don’t have potential. Execution of ideas, however, backed by real results does have everything it takes to catapult your startup to where you want it to be.
Startups are awesome but you can’t pay for the journey by losing your sanity. Pay it forward, pay for it with sacrifices, but don’t pay for it with life.