“Get Back On Board, Dammit!”
Those were the words of Italian Coast Guard Gregorio de Falco to Captain Francesco Schettino while he was abandoning his ship, leaving 4,200 people on board to perish (at least 12 died).
When difficulty strikes, how do you handle it? Do you take responsibility, do whatever it takes to make it right, step up and take action (like the Coast Guard)… or do you shirk responsibility, leave the scene of the disaster you created and start looking for someone else to blame (like the Captain)?
Now, startups are risky. Horribly, terrifyingly risky. Though lives are not at stake, my business still has an obligation to keep afloat. It is important for it not to capsize — after all, people are depending on my success. My actions are directly responsible for the amount of funding, and thus possibilities that Habla Roosevelt (a program which aims to educate and teach worker’s children english) will have to offer. If it cannot sustain this incredibly important social responsibility, the enterprise will have to vanish, and my productivity will be allocated elsewhere.
In a pre-mortem line of thought, the failure of this business would be a major example of wasted capital. Knowing this, I have a very high incentive to do well, and I plan on fixing all the holes on board in order not to sink. Currently, the issue in my start up is examining my business’s productivity levels to ensure that it is operating efficiently. In areas where productivity is low, it must be revealed whether the problem is caused by lack of resources, or poor working practices (a more likely alternative).
From my experience in the Innovation Academy (a program in which the focus is entrepreneurship), there are three essential elements to consider when initiating a successful startup; it must be formed by good people, it needs to make something customers actually want, and it ought to initiate with a minimal amount of expenses. Most startups that fail do it because they do not accomplish one of these. A startup that does all three will probably succeed. And that’s kind of exciting, when you think about it, because all three are doable. Hard, but doable.
So far, my business has proven to be desirable: roughly 55 items were sold in the time frame of an hour. It also has demonstrated the fact that it is economically viable (the costs of running it are incredibly low, and it has a high profit margin). The worrisome aspect becomes the people… Is it truly feasible to run this business alone? In the next couple weeks, I will be testing my limits to find a solution.
If there is one key chunk of wisdom I have learned so far while reading “The Lean Startup”, it’s that there is no magically difficult step that requires brilliance to solve. In particular, you don’t need a brilliant idea to start a startup. The way a startup makes money is to offer people a better product than they have now. Even so, what people have now is often so bad that it doesn’t take brilliance to do better. Some even say that what matters is not ideas, but the people who have them. Good people can fix bad ideas, but good ideas can’t save unqualified people. One clear example of this was my mom’s hair salon. It was incredibly successful, until she handed the business over to her partner. A change in management often leads to a fall in success. Not always, but often. Sometimes it takes a turn for the better, but usually it’s a huge risk to take on someone else’s venture. Perhaps the reason for which I chose to separate from BlendZ (an already existing smoothie company, which recently changed administration) is to be my own risk-taker, and create my own business. It still a risk, but a much bolder one. One which I am passionate about. I look forward to the challenges ahead, and won’t abandon the ship till the last second. I need to remember: I am the captain of my fate.