Yes, you heard that right – stop starting up!
This may come off as a rant, but hear me out on this one. It’s always a great and exciting thing to hear about startups; their adventures, their pain and gains, but that’s not enough. It’s not enough to run a business.
And that’s the difference right there; between starting up and creating a business. The truth is, it is a lot easier to start something than to sustain and grow it into something greater. That’s the difference between a one-year old company versus one that has been around for a hundred years. Sure, the latter doesn’t sound as cool today but think about it, building a business that lasts a century? That’s beyond startup weekends, community meet ups, business canvases, participating in pitching competitions and raising funds. In fact, it’s about the ‘boring’ stuff – management, operational workflow, processes, SOPs, public relations, customer retention, branding, product innovation, finance planning and more.
But having that said, I don’t blame startups.
Young founders today focus on the desired ending and has subconsciously replaced that with “business”; no thanks to constant focus on the glam on huge fund raising rounds, celebrity entrepreneurs and acquisitions. And to achieve this “exit”, many founders focus on building pitch decks, business plans, canvases, networking opportunities, whatever – but does that matter?
Here’s what I think a startup should really be like:
#1: It should fulfil a cause
No, it doesn’t need to be world peace or to eradicate hunger, but it should be something positive worth hustling for. All these talks about disrupting traditional businesses and industries shouldn’t even be the primary purpose anyway. You don’t disrupt just because you want to, or to sound cool; you disrupt because you believe you have a better solution that fulfils a cause and brings more benefits than its former self.
#2: It should create job opportunities
Isn’t this what businesses are all about? It’s a high calling to build a team and to ensure that not only they have enough to live by, but also to have an environment where people can be at their best, thriving, and finding fulfilment in what they do. People makes businesses, not otherwise. So instead of focusing solely on product fit and scale, pay attention to your people too!
#3: It should make money and stimulates the economy
By that I mean profits! Not through fund raising, glorified exits, winning pitching competitions or at the expense of your team. I’m talking about hard cash that you can actually see and spend without the expense of your business or others. It doesn’t make sense to raise millions but only to squander them all away because of ‘market acquisition’. That just means poor execution, and the only disruption you are making is to yourself.
Want to build something cool and sexy? Stop starting up and build a business.