“You Want To Create A Startup: Are You INSANE?”
That is pretty much the reaction I got, when I announced that I would be creating my own company, after more than 19 years working for one of the most exciting companies in the world.
I have spent a good portion of my career in various technical and program management capacities, in France and in the US.
During that time, I’ve had the privilege of working with a countless number of customers, accompanying them on existing projects or starting new ventures.
So you ask: if this was so great, why did I decide to leave and start a new company?
There are many reasons why people want to start their own company. Some right some wrong. Let’s start with the wrong ones…
#1 – Wrong reasons for starting your own business
In his article (link), Adam Fridman describes his top 4 bad reasons for starting your own business:
- Being cool
- Saving the world
- Getting rich
- Creating jobs
Which, aligns well with Jory Des Jardins’s “Five bad reasons to become an entrepreneur”
- Because you want to become rich (billionaire before the age of 30?)
- Because you want to become famous (be the next Steve Jobs?)
- Because you really need a job
- Because you want to work less
- Because you want to be your own boss and are sick of working for someone
When you have a 9-to-5 job, it is (relatively) easy to fall into these traps and think you’d be better off starting your own business (because the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence!)
Out of this list, (at least) for me, becoming rich and be your own boss seem the less valid reasons for launching a startup.
- You can make more money by having a job in a large company. “[…] the 100th engineer at Facebook made far more money than 99% of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs”
- In reality, . “What it’s really like: everyone else is your boss – all of your employees, customers, partners, users, media are your boss”, Phil Libin (CEO Evernote)
The bottom line is that starting a new company is hard and requires complete involvement, and you don’t want to do it for the wrong reasons.
#2 – Good reasons
We are all different human beings with our own aspirations and ideas about what we want to do in life. It is therefore expected that we have divergent opinions about the *right* (or wrong) reasons why we should start our own business. I am not even sure I agree with all the “20 reasons to start your own business” detailed here (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/234916).
Notice how the above list mostly focuses on you?
For me, although there are plenty of good personal reasons to start your own business, such as:
- Pick up new skills and/or enhance existing ones (time management, people management, organization, communication, etc…)
- Take pleasure in what you do = no more getting bored at the office
- See the direct results of your labor: everything you do, every decision you make has a direct impact on your business on a daily basis
- Create and innovate: you decide what you want your company to be, how you want to present it
- Arrange your time as you wish: this does not mean that you work less and have more time available. It just means that you have more flexibility in organizing your time as you see fit to spend with your family for example
… the most important reasons (and sustainable reasons for your business in the long-term) should evolve around helping other people to achieve their goals (in the B2C space) or other companies (in the B2B environment) to succeed in their projects.
Do your homework, research and find what your customers need in order to succeed. Then act on it.
#3 – Value proposition and execution excellence
To build a long-term viable business, as an entrepreneur, you should focus your energy towards finding a straight-forward value proposition for your customers and execute on that proposition.
I’ve been working in the Business Intelligence space for a long time. On any single day, I am very successful in interacting with a couple of customers, but just a few at a time.
Although BI and Reporting projects vary in shape from customer to customer, they all more or less follow the same pattern:
- Get user requirements
- Write specifications
- Develop the BI solution (databases, cubes, integration packages, reports)
- Test and deploy the solution to end users
Over and over again, I would repeat these steps, which would lead to very successful projects and ultimately very satisfied customers. But only a few customers at a time.
What if I could package all those lessons, best practices and knowledge accumulated over the years into something that could impact many, many more people and companies?
It is that very idea that prompted me to create my own company:
“Provide the tools and services to help *more* customers get the most of their BI and reporting investment”
Agreed. This is a highly focused value proposition. But it is one that I feel very comfortable with and that I can, without any doubt, execute on.
#4 – Reading material
Of course, you don’t wake up one morning and decide you want to create your own startup. It takes time and inner thinking before you can act on your decision to create a new company.
Preparation is key and this is no shortage of information, available on the Internet. Here are a few references that you should find useful, if you are about to start your own company.
Walter Chen, Founder of iDoneThis (@idonethis), has this awesome post on “Forget about generating billions: Why entrepreneurs should create $1,000 startups”
Ash Maurya (@ashmaurya), founder of Spark59, runs a very interesting blog: Practice Trumps Theory where he shares his experience in running a lean startup”
And of course, the following web sites are a gold mine, for all startup-related topics:
I don’t aspire to become the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. I don’t want to build the next Microsoft, Apple or Facebook.
But I do firmly believe that I have the passion, the skills, the people and the products it takes to help more customers maximize the investment in their BI infrastructure.
And that’s why I decided to create my own company.
What do you think? Is it insane to start your own business?