I am not going to sugar coat that start-ups are easy, and the chances of failure are low. Anyone can start a business at any age whether you are young and inexperienced or old and experienced. You have Facebook Mark Zuckerberg who started his company during college in his 20s while there are also other successful people such as Colonel Sanders who started a fast food chain restaurant called Kentucky fried chicken (KFC) at 62. There is no correct age as to when you should start your own company.
Start-up always start with these 5 concepts. Ideas, Product, Teams, Execution and Luck. But luck is something that we cannot control, thus there is only actually 4.
Let’s first talk about luck. I truly believe that there needs to be a certain degree of luck to be successful in life and having a lot of money. Bill gates for example he dropped out of college and started his own business. Now as one of the most riches person in the world. A lot of people don’t know his backstory of how he landed his biggest client IBM as a small start-up. I would say that it was pure luck that he became successful. Apparently, his mother was a high-level executive that worked closely with IBM’s CEO John Opel to bring on bills start up career of Microsoft. Now let’s take a few steps back.
Let’s say if you didn’t have a mother that was a high-level executive that worked at IBM. Would you think a random Harvard dropout technical relying on a high school diploma to look for jobs or business investors you would have a chance. Most likely not.
To think that 2020 would; you as a business owner hire someone Harvard drop out or business partner is pretty crazy. The only reason why I think that a Harvard drop out would get hired is because of a few reasons: He has the ability to get into Harvard but didn’t have the commitment to finish his degree. Or that Harvard broke that poor man’s soul.
For Startups you need a certain degree of luck like bill gates. Think of it as luck you easy way in a social ladder you need to climb. Making the right connections meeting the right people. People are very UNPREDICTABLE, you never know WHAT people know in their heads, and you never know WHO people know and the CONNECTIONS they have.
Luck is something you can control since you can make valuable connections but not every connection you make will be in your favor, For example if you somehow made friends with the president of a country there may or may not be a chance that the president would help you out when you need the help, that is why I think luck should not be a major focus during when your company is starting up. It helps that you know all these people, but it does not directly help you.
To focus on what can directly help your start-up you need to break it down to the ideas that you have, your product / service, your teams and how you execute.
Idea / Ideas
There are two types of ideas, having a Good Idea vs having a Great Idea. By definition these 2 ideas are similar just that one is simply average and the other is above average.
A few years back a lot of people have said that it is not cool to spend so much time thinking about an idea. You’re just suppose just start. Start throwing stuff on the wall and see what sticks, Trial and error. This isn’t completely wrong. The act of doing is great it is a start. But there is no way to evaluate if you are going in the right direction. The direction that I am talking about is the future and the market. A good idea is when you start doing something with the intention of Trial and error in hopes that you get something random out of everything your throwing out there. A Great idea is when you have a very solid general direction as to where you want to take your idea, and how you want to achieve it. Good ideas tend to pivot directions a lot. I am saying that in no way that doing a lot of pivots in your idea is a bad thing but the main reason why you need to pivot so much is because you realized your previous plans and ideas has flaws and is constantly in correction mode. There is no way that anyone can have a great idea and stick with that one great idea forever unless they have built a time machine and have foreseen the future. Of course, most great companies start with great ideas and not on a Trial and error base.
For example, let's take amazon. Amazon start as a book selling company online (online bookstore). This is a clear example of why it was a Great Idea at the time was because it was using the dotcom era by making everything digital. It foreseen what it could have become that was unique and different from other bookstores. One, I think that Jeff Bezos understood how the public view on the important of books, literacy and how the digital world was shaping. Even today these values still hold true as society have been promoting heavily on higher education, online shopping.
Long term thinking is very rare, especially in startups. But it is a huge advantage if you do it. Remember that ideas will expand like an onion over time and also with more ambition you have. You most certain not need to have everything figured out in your path to world domination but you most definitely need to have at least a well-built structure or foundation to build your business on.
A Great idea comes from understanding market trends, is this business model replicable by others and knowing how the cash flow comes in. A lot of the times you would realize that ideas are great, but it isn’t applicable in society at the time being but maybe a few years down the line people realize that they were wrong. I think that evaluating if the idea is a Good idea or a Great idea is that all ideas are awesome question is if it is applicable 2-3 or 5 years from now.
If we were to take a read of some of the recent news revolving around 5G. It is very possible that it will become a reality in the next 5 to 6 years. The worst-case scenario is that these become a reality 10 or 15 years from now or never.
Product / Service
The next step after you have an idea is product. Idea is design, product / Service is what are you going to give to other people. Lets take 5G for example. The idea of 5G is that it is faster than 4G using a higher frequency to transmit data as if it was in real time since the data is so big and so fast. Which as a result it would follow current trends of how people want instant gratification and instant results. Like the example above about amazon where they deliver books to you and can be accessed anywhere follows trends of society.
Let’s take another example of how Uber eats and Grubhub the follow the same trends an idea that has been established as a need of society where everyone needs food to survive, people are too lazy or too tired to cook. Tons of restaurants on physical street but no customers since there are lazy people and tired people. Why use something we all have which is a smart phone to order through an app and instant delivery to your doorstep.
Once again Idea with a product that matches and align itself with market trends and people’s behaviors. Each new generation of society is constantly building on something that was previously built by others. like how if Uber eats partnered with KFC a restaurant chain it allows KFC to pivot from what it used to be a stationary restaurant to a mobile digital restaurant. Great company don’t pivot often but when they do it is because they see that the market is changing. When starting up the most important aspect is the idea must be solid and also something that you love doing. Think of a company as a person. if you don’t like the work you’re doing, how can you expect others to do their work in a loving way.
When a company is changing, it would require a team. Teams are necessary when starting a company. There is a saying “If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far go together”. In a team everyone together brings on multiple prospective, backgrounds and specialty. There is only so much a man can do in 24 hours a day and can only think so much a day. Consider finding a team when starting up.
Teams help your company grow and expand from nothing, but also, they are there to give you support in days that are bad. A company at the end of the day is not about how much money you make but how much impact you have created both within your company and outside. Everyone that is on this planet have value, ideas, expectations, and skills. Within your company you need to manage/ balance your team and individual values.
The reason why I say teams are so important is because when you view large companies when there is a change in management, when you look at Microsoft, the year that bill gates stepped down to retire changed CEO, the company stocks collapsed. Until when they changed another CEO Satya Nadella, and only then the company stocks rose back up. Managing a company is just as important as managing its internal divisions and teams. When starting up a company your team members don’t believe in your idea, your vision and leaves. One your wasting valuable resources in training and giving them vital blueprints to the company. Sure, that there is an old saying that everyone is replaceable, but the constant replacing of people does not necessary mean it’s a good thing. However, the true fix is actually fixing the problem not replacing. Finding teammates that are willing to stand by your side, in return you value them as irreplaceable when you find that teammate with the determination to follow you and work with you, your next step is to execute your ideas.
Executing the knowhow of each step of your idea you first breakdown goals and assign task to team members while allowing people to give feedback. A very traditional mindset is this because I am the boss / founder I do what I think it is right regardless opinions of people that are under me. This is a typical concept that will eventually lead to everyone is replaceable because you are just doing what upper management says. There are a lot of ways to execute a goal, idea or vision. There are short quick ways and there are long time-consuming ways. All ways do end in one result, the same result which is the goal idea or vision you have set out to do. The long way is doing it alone, while the quick and short way is listening to your team, understanding the needs of the team, treating team members like actual human beings allowing them to find purpose in their work which in return brings values, allowing people to express their ideas and expectations, which then translates to showcasing individual talents and skills.
To conclude: on why you should start a start-up should be because you want to make an impact in the world and the environment you live in. Through impacting the foundation which is PEOPLE you change the environment and then the world. And as for how you should start a start-up is because you are having a sense of purpose, and desire to change and want to better the future.
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Check out our previous article, How to communicate effectively between teams?
Last Edited: Jan 17 2020
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