When college is over, a career awaits you. At least, that is what all graduates assume will happen. You can either get employed or start something of your own. Startups have provided a means to get to the American Dream for many college graduates.
Today, we will focus on the startup realities and dispel some myths. There is something about building something of your own which appeals to a fresh mind just out of college.
There are so many myths about what starting and running a startup will entail. We will look at some of those castles in the sky. Then we will explore the rigors that come with startups.
Here are some reality good checks to get you started
Venture capitalist dreams
If you think that venture capitalist angels are going to rain money down on you, think again. It has happened to some people, but that doesn’t mean it will happen to you. When you are a startup, you might go for many months without any salaries.
Operating solely on IOUs might be the order of the day before there is any salvation from the venture capitalist angels. Getting the staff to help you gain some growth with no salaries will also be a challenge.
Product production is not about epiphanies
So, you think that because you are fresh out of college, ideas will flow. The harsh reality is that months or even a year could pass before you can have that overnight epiphany. Most of the time, it is not an epiphany that saves the day as movies lead you to believe. Most of the time, it is a slow burn that is excruciatingly frustrating.
Rejections abound everywhere
There are going to be more no’s than yes’ when you start. What most investors want to see, is a golden goose laying golden eggs. If you present them with a regular goose and say it will lay golden eggs, it will not have that much appeal. I understand that it doesn’t sound fair but such is the nature of the world.
Google doesn’t buy that easy
It is a hard sell when you are a startup. People will doubt you, question you, and frustrate you at every turn. Starting a business is easy but getting it to be profitable is harder than you think. The night is long and full of rocks and hard places. The chances that you will get stuck between these are high when you have a startup. Early retirement as you envision it may not be arriving that early.
Is it rags to riches?
Sometimes it is, especially when you look at companies like eBay and Google. But, it is seldom ever like that for any startup. Startups are the companies that have accounted for all the net growth America has had between 1980 and 2005. The reality is that they have to work very hard to break through to the marketplace.
There is no one to hold your hand through the process. Even if you do have someone, it is a precarious arrangement that could topple any minute.
The brutal taxing a startup inflicts on newbies
The startup will take everything that you have. Emotional, financial and mental exhaustion is a given. What do you do when your brain is at a standstill, a panic attack is taunting you, and you have no food in the fridge?
Here are some of the things you should expect when you want to start something of your own.
When you have a startup to run, everything slips right by you at the speed of light. It is up to you to make sure this speed doesn’t kill your enthusiasm. The money will move faster than you can acquire it. The startup demands everything that you have and finances will not be easy. Be ready for that.
There is nothing that hits harder emotionally than a full-on panic attack. You will need to move around a lot shopping the idea, hold it together for the sake of your startup and put all emotional attachments on hold! Nothing kills relationships faster than constant absence both physically and emotionally.
Intellectual ice age
There comes a moment in the process of running the startup when your brain refuses to function. No matter how hard you think, ideas seem frozen in a place where you can’t reach them. That is the time when you will break down more frequently. Just make sure that you do not completely lose it. Hang in there and see what fruits this garden can offer you.
The uncertainty of a startup
Sometimes you will hit the mother lode. That much is true. However, most people do not anticipate the uncertainty that comes with starting and running a startup. As the CEO, everyone and everything depends on what you will decide. The most unnerving thing is that no research you do is ever enough. There is always going to be something that stumps you every morning that you wake up to hustle on an idea.
The challenge will be to fight off the despair for as long as you can. Being an entrepreneur can be extremely rewarding. You will face challenges and have to solve them as the audience that is your small staff watches.
The expectations for you to succeed are higher when you have an actionable idea. As the tension and pressure mounts, you will need to breathe and keep calm. Use the cornered feeling to strike back in a surgically executed motion of pure self-belief.
A look at the statistics
Most startups try very hard to get to market for revenue generation. The thing is that, according to statistics, they should be focusing on growth first before chasing revenue. A look at the statistics will show you that there are two sides to this coin.
A study was conducted of 158,000 startups in 10 countries to determine what the numbers say about this industry.
The rosy side indicates that the startups create revenue and jobs. The statistics prove that startups are a force which drives the economy. That is the side that gives hope to everyone and makes all this seem like an entirely good thing.
The not-so-rosy side will show you that there is a lot more to this success than most people realize. Startups thrive by cannibalizing other startups that are emerging. Success will depend on whether or not you will beat that other startup competing with you, to market.
Up to 34% of the revenue generated by the startups by year five comes at the expense of the other emerging startups. Look at how Facebook killed Myspace in a few years.
35% of these companies had three straight years of revenue growth during the study. But, only 7.5% were able to increase the staff for three consecutive years. From this, we can tell that startups may not be the magical cure for unemployment that we have come to expect it to be.
Enough with the numbers, let’s look at how you can cope.
Coping with the rigors of startups
There is nothing to do except plow through. But even when you are using sheer will to get things done, you must be careful.
- Chill out
Being the entrepreneur has its perks, but it is also very demanding. That is why you will need to rest when you feel like you are drowning. If you don’t, you will break.
- Plan always
Micromanaging everything may seem a bit despotic, but when you want things to fall into place, that is what you must do. Planning for everything is the key to getting everything done on time.
- Don’t try to do everything
You are not Superman. You cannot do everything all by yourself. It will kill you at some point, sometimes in a literal way. If there is something that can be done by someone else, delegate. Focusing on fewer tasks will increase your efficiency levels.
- Do not panic
It may sound like a joke because you will panic at some point but try not to. You can find ways to avoid triggers that cause panic. If you experience a panic attack that comes out of the clear blue sky, try some management tactics to mitigate it.
To wrap up
There is no reason why you cannot succeed if you have the product and will to do it. I am just here to warn and remind you that it is not that easy. There is no way for you to have it easy. Unless you have something very revolutionary, you should keep realism close to the chest at all times.
Happy entrepreneurship graduate.