I am extremely lucky that I am associated with, friend with or at least have an acquaintance with a lot of entrepreneurs. Most of them are amazing people with some really cool ideas and great insights about their industry as well as mine. The conversations are enlightening as well as highly enjoyable. But there are a few that I encounter from time to time who I feel are doing a startup for not so right reasons. Now there are no “absolutely” right or wrong reasons to do a startup but there are some that I feel are more right than others. If you are doing a startup just for any of the following reasons, I request you to think again before you move forward.
I don’t follow orders / I don’t want to work for someone else – this one is the most stated reason and the worst one in my opinion. If you can’t follow orders you will not know how to make your team follow you. If you have never worked for someone, you will never be able to understand how your colleagues feel and would never be able to utilize their potential optimally. A bad follower cannot be a good leader. Be a follower, be a good follower and then try to be a leader. Unless you have the right family name, most of us have to work hard to lead men.
Let me to cut the middleman out – ‘So my boss pays me and the client pays my boss. I do all the work and yet the boss is getting rich by just being there. Why don’t I eliminate the boss from the system and keep all the riches to myself. I can any day do all the little managerial work my boss does‘. Sounds familiar? It seems very much similar to “I can do this myself” but is very different. There is a reason the boss is there where he is. He worked hard to reach there and is still working in getting the client and taking flak when you screw up. It’s not wrong to want to be the boss but you should wait your turn and make sure you qualify for the same. If every employee starts doing this we will have a lot of one-man startups all around.
I’ll be my own boss. Life will be chilled out – “It must be awesome to not have to ask anyone for leave. Work or take a break whenever you want”. I am sure all the entrepreneurs have heard it at least once. People think that just because there is no apparent boss on top of a startup guy, his life is chilled out which he lives according to his free will. Well that does happen. You will get calls from the junior most team member of a client in the middle of a movie and there will be nothing you could do. You will have to take meetings on holidays and cancel your personal commitments to make things work. If you are doing a startup just to get rid of office compliances, please don’t.
Doing a startup is so easy – All you need is a website, they say. And a website can be built very cheap by any freelancer. If you build any decent portal which does something social surely Facebook or Yahoo will buy you out in no time. If not that e-commerce is still awesome, you can sell anything. How hard could that be? My answer : Very hard. For every startup that get successful there are thousands that don’t. For every startup that get acquired there are millions that don’t. Only take the leap if you can stomach this kind of risk.
I have an awesome idea – Yay!! Congrats to you. Now go back and do your job. Ideas are a dime a dozen and have zero inherent value without a driver, a driving force and proper execution. You could think about the next Facebook all you want but that wont make it happen. If you botch the execution you will either kill the idea or someone else will move ahead with it just by doing it better than you. Don’t make the jump with just the idea. You need to bring more to the table.
I am a terrific programmer – Good. Stick to programming. Interview at Google/Facebook and I wish that you get through. Startups, even the purely internet kind, require a lot more than just good programming skills. Most likely you will end up building a technologically awesome, maybe even great looking product which no one is using while you sell lesser products having millions of users. If programming is the only skill you have, you’d better work for a startup than starting one.
Everyone is doing it – If you want to do a startup just so that you can contribute to the conversations that you have who have all turned entrepreneurs then you are in for trouble. Peer pressure, of any kind is bad. Don’t do it just because you are feeling left out. Do it because you want to stand out. Being one of “them“ is not cool even if them is entrepreneurs.
I want to get filthy rich and famous just like Zuckerberg – I do too. And I hope both of us get rich too. But there is no guarantee that you will get rich by doing a startup. You could. But you might not. A bird in hand is usually better than a million in a dream. Think about it.
Now as I am near the end of this post I realize that most of us are entrepreneurs because of a combination of these reasons. But if you are boarding the startup boat just because of one of these reasons, I would warn you about the rough sea that would be waiting for you. If you agree/disagree or have a feedback, do leave a comment here. You can also find me on twitter @akhilrex
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I have helped many startups in building their products and I would be happy to have a chat with you about your idea. Catch me on twitter at @akhilrex