Advice and Expectations for Entrepreneurs Today
It surprises me how many hats entrepreneurs have to wear today. I always thought it would be as simple as know your product, your market and everything else falls into place but it is the rare kind of job where you are your own boss and your only employee. Much like actors we are expected to adapt immediately to our surroundings. Pitching to investors reminds me of how my actor friends describe auditions. Before both, people give us advice like “Be yourself but make sure they like you!” Family and friends walk on eggshells around our pre-assumed delicate egos and say things like “I think you app is perfect, really.” And then you have people who offer unsolicited advice and opinions like “Maybe you should make it a dating app instead.” We are expected to have a product that is different but if it’s too different most people will say “This isn’t a good sign because there is no market for it.” What I found most ironic was: Self-proclaimed early-stage angel investors will often say “Great idea but you’re too early for an investment.”
Like any pursuit heavily dependent on oneself there are a lot of expectations and a lot of advice given out to meet said expectations. The best, life-changing advice is obviously received through clickbait articles like 5 things every successful entrepreneur does. I know what you’re thinking, it’s probably something really insightful like they all have or once had startups but it’s even better. You have expert advice like “They all wake up before 6 am” and then it is further illustrated with creative metaphors like “early bird gets the worm.” Everybody is an opinionated advice-giving expert on the internet. I’m not claiming that there isn’t any good advice on the internet but I’ve learned that the same path that worked for some other person in your field doesn’t guarantee that it will work again for you.
Entrepreneurs are expected to be more pushy than a perfume salesman at a mall, more shameless and unapologetic than a Fox News anchor. More charismatic than an actress on a talk show before her movie releases. Marketing experts will strongly recommend you say things like “This app will change your life and then the world.” Apparently, having an app that makes peoples lives easier isn’t enough from a marketing stand point. I pursued making Orbit Marketplace into an app from an idea because I genuinely believed it will help people sell things they’re too lazy to ship through eBay and too petrified to sell on Craigslist. Does it change people’s lives? Well it changed my life because I have a job and I know it helps our customers but I can’t promise that it will save your marriage or help you grow back hair you lost to early on-set balding. It might but I can’t promise that. What I can promise is that selling things or subletting your apartment become a lot easier when you can talk to people within 0.5–50 miles of you, especially when your friends and friends of friends are on it and following you. Is it enough to make people’s lives a little easier? Or does everything need to be branded as life changing, synergy inducing, industry disrupting to succeed?