I want to slap just the ‘Entrepreneur’ in them!
If I could take a person and split them into two — The real person and The Entrepreneur, I would really like to take a few people from the startup circle and slap some sense into the Entrepreneur side of them.
I run Productive Solutions, a Branding and Digital Marketing consultancy and my work involves meeting a lot of people from the startup circle. If a company as small as mine with 3 full time employees including me and a couple of freelancers have worked with over 200 clients in just 3 years, imagine the number of companies starting up. That is more than one client every week on an average!
The issue I want to address is the is the blind obsession with ‘inspiration’. I know of a guy who calls everything an inspiration — The opposite shop chaiwala, the 5 star hotel manager, the old beggar outside his house. He used to share this everyday in the daily meeting with his office folks, apparently these stories inspired no one else there, but they tried so hard to take inspiration from these things.
Most startup founders think they have to learn from the world of successful entrepreneurs and their life story to be succesful. 8 out of 10 startup guys worship Apple and Steve Jobs. 5/10 are in love with Elon Musk. 8 out of 10 will start smiling and feel pepped up after seeing these daily Whatsapp motivation forward. Of course, I respect that people are different and each find their own sources of energy. But the real problem is what these inspirations lead to a lot of times:
At some point of time they start to believe that any great business ‘HAS TO’ go through a big depression for them to be successful. And that depression is something to be proud of. They don’t realize a lot of times that they are like frog in hot water with no control over anything. They don’t realize things are beyond repair till the water is too hot to escape from. All the while, they were shouting out to the world ‘Hey look how much heat I can take. I am going to super successful when I finally get out of this’.
That exactly is where the problem is. People have started romanticizing bad times in a business. In this romance, they forget ethics, they ignore other people involved — Employees, Stake holders, Vendors. They keep believing that they are going to get out of the situation and just keep digging the pit deeper and deeper.
These issues arise because of the issue with the portrayal of startup world — We hear mainly about the success stories and mainly about the bigwigs. These however will hardly represent 1% of the actual startup world. People refer to e-commerce giants like Flipkart and Snapdeal as startups! Wait, what?!
People startup for the sake of starting up! Forget ‘Big Idea’, it is overrated. But do you have something that the market needs, or do you have a better version of something that the market has or are you having the whole plan and funds to create a market need? These questions aren’t met with solid answers.
Businesses are not built out of risks alone. Yes, there are situations when you have to make calculated risks, but even that is not necessary for everyone. People have stopped believing in starting off with what they have and what they can and growing organically. ‘Its all in or nothing’ might sound like a good motto and perhaps even be a good motto, but only if the entrepreneur is the only stake holder and the only person who gets affected.
I am dealing with multiple people who owe me payments anywhere between an ongoing delay of 3 months to a whole year! I ask around and every vendor I speak to has similar issues with some of their clients.
Startups have great relationships with their clients. It goes beyond just a professional relationship. Hence, the harshness of communication and actions can’t be directed at the person as a whole.
There are some really nice folks, helpful, kind and all that, but, as entrepreneurs, they are somebody else completely!
But like a lawyer friend of mine says, the mistake is from my end for not billing for 100% in advance. I guess he had a point.