Startups are businesses. Why do some people seem to forget that? Especially the people running them.
Not just ordinary businesses, but business at the hardest point in any journey; the start; where every minute, every hour, every day is valuable and irretrievable when wasted. Where every decision has consequences, where resources are extremely limited and where even if everything goes your way and luck is on your side, you probably still have, at very best, a 1 in 10 chance of success.
Lately, something has been worrying me. In the past few years, we’ve created, supported and facilitated the growth of an ‘entrepreneurism industry’ in Ireland that doesn’t give a damn about building successful businesses; how could they? They have no ideas what the measures of success are, they have no experience of building businesses, disrupting industries or creating businesses that will change the world. The majority of them have barely left their offices in a decade. Consultants flourish in this environment, but 99% of them are people with no relevant experience of building modern, high potential, high growth startups.
The biggest problem with this ‘industry’ is that it creates doubt and lack of confidence in new entrepreneurs ; who instead of trusting their gut and just going for it, wait around looking for others to validate their decisions and actions, looking for the right answers that often aren’t there. There are often no right answers when it comes to building a brand new business.
But what’s very scary is that we seem to have lost that core value that every entrepreneur has in common; a great work ethic. Instead of imitating the successes of leaders who’ve made it; like Pat Phelan, Colm Lyon, Jerry Kenneally, Brian Caulfield, Mark Little, Peter Coppinger and Dan Mackey, Ray Nolan, and many, many, many others; who all have basically one thing in common – they worked their asses off, every minute of every day until the got success and even then they just moved the bar higher and kept going; we look for easy solutions, quick wins. We look for every option apart from the one that’s so obvious and right in front of us – work harder and stop looking for easy answers from other people.
The easy road traveled never leads to a place no-one’s ever been before. And that’s where startups are meant to head, into the unknown. Successful entrepreneurs use every minute they have to advance their business. They don’t perform for others. They don’t waste time on trivialities. They focus on the next milestone, the next goal, the next thing that needs to be done in order to get even a fraction of an inch closer to the goal. We’ve allowed Entrepreneurism to become a lifestyle and it has to stop.
Dedicated startup founders are not reality TV show contestants and don’t act like they are. Let’s face it, if entrepreneurism really was actually easy, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?