Don’t Just Blindly Follow The Startup Hype

by Yann Girard (author of Confessions of an Entrepreneur)


When we talk about startups these days, we usually talk about small ventures that were started in a small garage by a couple of geeks that became or are becoming the next big thing.

Financing from the biggest Business Angels and VCs on planet earth. First office in Silicon Valley and New York. IT department in India with 200+ employees. A sky rocking IPO in two to three years after launch.

Never having to work again. Enjoying life to the fullest. That’s something we all dream about. A dream that seems so close. A dream that we are all trying to live. But this is nothing new. A couple of years back we called this dream the “American Dream”.

Thanks to the world’s biggest investment vehicles and their business plans that need to be fuelled with “big hits” we can now all live the “American Dream”. The “American Dream” was globalized.

The best thing about it: we don’t have to move to the US anymore. The “American Dream” was internationally scaled and can now be chased from Ho Chi Minh City, over Bangalore to Rio de Janeiro. To put it in an investor‘s words: the US were the proof-of-concept and global scaling is currently in process.

The German saying “from a dishwasher to a multimillionaire” is outdated. Today we would say from an “entrepreneur to a business angel”.

But don’t get me wrong here. I deeply believe in entrepreneurship, innovation and technology. I am convinced that this is the only chance to get the entire world out of poverty and create new and sustainable jobs and companies.

But what I am trying to say is that you should think about what you really want in life. Do you want to chase a dream that will allow you to live a life that you maybe already have?

Be honest to yourself and ask yourself if founding a venture will help you to achieve your dreams and allow you to live the life you really want to live. If you dream about a relaxed, stress- and care free life and having a lot of money, founding a company might be the wrong choice.

Don’t start a company based on wrong assumptions and wrong expectations. Starting a business will be very stressful, you will usually be on a tight budget and it takes many years, or even decades until you hit the jackpot. Most of the times you will never get a glimpse at this jackpot, ever.

But if your goal is to change and improve people’s lives and create create value, then starting a company in our digitized world is a great and very powerful tool. If you think back in time, changing people’s lives took a lot more a couple of decades ago.

Nelson Mandela, had to stay in prison for 27 years to fight apartheid. Mahatma Gandhi was eight years in prison to fight for India’s independence.

So before taking the decision to start a venture sit back, relax and think about what you really want in life. The classic tale of the “executive and the Mexican fisherman” is a wonderful story that represents how we all have learned to focus on what we desire mentally without taking into account what we really want in life.

You can use this story as inspiration to slow down, reassess, and get real about how you want to live life. Otherwise at some point in life you might find out that you are not the type to found a company and wasted your time and money chasing someone else’s dream.

“An executive from America was standing at the pier of a Mexican village, taking a much needed vacation. It was his first in more than 10 years. He noticed a small boat with just one fisherman had docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The executive complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”

The executive then asked, “why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”

The Mexican replied, “I have enough to support my family for a little while.”

The executive then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life.”

The executive scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15–20 years.”

“But what then?”

The American laughed and said that’s the best part. “When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions.. Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Shaking his head, the executive bade the Fisherman farewell. After returning from vacation, the Executive quit his job. “

Feel free to also connect with me on Facebook here or on Twitter: @girard_yann

Photo: Flickr

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