Three good reads on starting up and entrepreneurship, this week
a) I asked Larry Page, Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey how they felt starting their companies. Their answers caught me off guard – Linkedin is fast becoming one of my favourite content sites. If you curate your own follow list, you will end up with a wealth of extremely good articles. This was one of them. And, this paragraph resonates:
When most of us fear failure, we walk away from our boldest ideas. Instead of being original, we play it safe, selling conventional products and familiar services. But great entrepreneurs have a different response to the fear of failure. Yes, they’re afraid of failing, but they’re even more afraid of failing to try.
I was talking to friends in a VC firm, and they told me that their problem is finding ventures that are original. Most of what they get are ‘copycat businesses’. Let us make one more uber site , or our business model is like air b&b. Or, in the impact space, people are funding high quality, low cost sanitary napkins- let us do this too. There is the rush, not surprisingly, to come together to create ‘safe’ business models.And this,
Publishers rejected Harry Potter because it was too long for a children’s book. Executives passed on Seinfeld for having incomplete plot lines and unlikeable characters. Pay a visit to Jerry Seinfeld’s bathroom, and you might find a memo hanging on the wall that calls the pilot episode of Seinfeld “weak” and says “”No segment of the audience was eager to watch the show again.”
Throughout history, the great originals have been the ones who failed the most
Worth reading the full piece.
2) Why do start ups fail – part 1 and part 2– interesting insights, including “Of those that failed, 74 percent failed due to premature scaling.”; un-coordinated transformations – a nightmare in any scenario, worse if it is your own company;
An organization’s capacity to digest new elements depends on a complex set of organizational processes. It’s difficult to add employees and customers at an extremely fast rate without diminishing the quality of output or running out of cash. Failure to define processes for recruitment, selection, motivation, control systems, and development of values within the organizational culture creates chaos rather than providing the kind of transformation that will allow a new business to thrive. Ultimately, these issues can crush any hope of sustainability. Each person who began with the firm must change as the organization does, entailing a shift that can feel profound. The days of ad hoc management disappear, and managers must learn how to work at a strategically higher and faster level and to define the principles that will govern decisions such as who should be hired and fired.
IMO, this is where the bulk of the problems arise. As you scale, you may need to get in professional help. But, when you do, it may not be the company you envisioned. As you grow, the bonds that made it such a fun, eclectic and organic workplace change. You need to be ready for this. And, this is true not just for startups.
3) How I Successfully Run Two Startups – just for inspiration, as I contemplate two startups – in two related yet different spheres.
(picture courtesy : Alternaimpact)