Entrepreneurs have this sneaking, sometimes glorified, suspicion that what they do is noisy, brilliant, possibly disruptive. Pipe dreams take us a long way from corporate bigotism but rarely keep us afloat. That in mind, know that your hair braid scheme might be more indicative of failure than it is success. Not that it lacks potential, quite the opposite, it lacks realism. Here are 3 realities of startup life to counter your prejudices and start you on the right foothold.
Think back to any familiar (more so in some than others) look of parental disappointment. The same frowning expression chaperoning your exit from cushy, corporate job for total autonomy selling sustainable chicken feed to artisanal egg hatcheries (this might exist). Now imagine friends discussing down-payments, this fall’s Pantone shades of pink and blue for new infant’s nursery, and the absence of organic produce at the comer store. Retaliating, you invested in your first bald-spot, getting your pitch primed for funding. These images sure DON’T coincide with fantastical dreams of entrepreneurial success but they do highlight our first reality; 1) startups are not glamorous. Rather, they’re stark, slow to fruition and often heartbreaking. The sooner you accept this stalemate, the easier, more sensory the process becomes.
How many times have YOU been whisked away by cheering fans, knighted, or even anointed honorary doctor ? Believe it or not, some consider startups a risky proposition; a sacrificial move. And though praise is always available for a good idea, it’s never constant or guaranteed. Adding salt; Hong Kong is small and, expat or native, each of us is privy to a pride of very vocal confidants. Some have your best interests in mind, others project inherent fears of instability. 2) Haters are going to hate, so commit, never deviate. If you’re jumping ship from one that can’t sink to one without sails, be certain you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Most of us are unwilling to accept constructive criticism. We’ve made solemn oaths to defend our ideas to the grave. Though the aforementioned “I can do better” attitude is the foundational ethos of every great enterprise or product, in a practical sense, it may be stifling your ability to adapt. If your narrative is complex and just as stream-of-consciousness as it were when first deliberated, consider simplifying your message. Potential investors, partners, and influencers will thank you for low-level verbatim. In such, be prepared to listen, learn and append your value proposition to accommodate. 3) Your ideas aren’t gospel, businesses that compromise, succeed.
So far we’ve asked you to be conservative, cautionary, humble. Which, for lack of a better word is boring. But If you’ve gotten to THIS point of the article without feeling discouraged, welcome. For despite everything said, startups are exhilarating, meaningful and most importantly soul searching. Your success rate is NOT dependant on how well you fit classical practice but by what quantum you exceed it. We urge you to take this boldest of steps, for life without challenge is a cubicle waiting to happen.