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 talk some sense into the Entrepreneur side of them.
Running a Branding and Digital Marketing consultancy, my work involves meeting a lot of people from the startup circle and understanding their market. If a startup like us have worked with over 350-400 clients in just 5 years. That is more than one client every week on an average. You can imagine the number of companies starting up!
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 every day 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 successful. 8/10 startup guys worship Apple and Steve Jobs. 6/10 are in love with Elon Musk, 8/10 will start smiling and feel pepped up after seeing these typical motivational forwards. Of course, I respect that people are different and each finds his/her own sources of energy. But the real problem is what these inspirations lead to a lot of times:
At some point in 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 a 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 is exactly 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, Stakeholders, Investors, 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, represents hardly 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? Why can’t a small business that makes a small healthy profit be called successful? 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 stakeholder and the only person who gets affected.
I am dealing with multiple people who owe me payments pending for months! I asked around and every agency/vendor I spoke to has similar issues with some of their clients.
As Startups, we have great relationships with our clients/vendors. It goes beyond just a professional relationship. Hence, the harshness of communication and actions can’t be directed at a personal level.
There are some really nice folks; helpful and kind. But as entrepreneurs, they are somebody else completely! I sincerely hope that the attitude shifts more to being realistic and ethical in the way we go about business.