Here is the second part of the talk on "entrepreneurship in the IT sector" that I gave at ALEV schools (not-so-funny jokes I made to the students were removed).
There are many different kinds of initiatives and ideas that stand out and made it through. So, what do they have all in common?
No; we won't talk about cliches like working day and night, chasing your dreams, doing what you love, and so on – these overly romantic-sounding generalizations are practically useless.
Today, I will share with you much more concrete and vital principles.
This factor, which is often overlooked, deserves first place in my opinion.
Let's examine Amazon's graph again, as in the previous article. We can attribute the wild growth of the company, which almost stood still from 1997 to 2009, to many reasons; but the first of these is that people were not accustomed to/did not trust purchasing a product online in those years, and the technological infrastructure of both internet and cargo companies was immature. They were just not ready for today's huge volume of shipping traffic.
Every idea has its time, and no power can stand in the way of an idea whose time has come.
When you start an initiative, you will likely be either early or late. Either way, you can still succeed: if you act early and survive until the market matures to adopt your business model, or if you fall behind but set a clearly better example than existing products and services. However, the secret is not to struggle in either way: You should carefully examine human behavior and trends, and launch as soon as an environment suitable for your idea starts to form.
Statistically, the most successful startups are those with 2 or 3 founding partners. For most companies, two people who complement each other's shortcomings is enough; the ideal number may increase depending on the scale of the company. The key part here is that complements each other's shortcomings.
Let's go back to the story in the previous article again:
One introvert (nerd), the other socialite (visionary) two college buddies decide one day to drop out of college and so on and so forth...
If you don't know how to code, you need someone who does; if you're serious, you need someone funny; if you are a dreamer, you need someone who is down to earth. The more different you are from each other, the better. So how do you come to terms with all these differences?
Ideally, you should have known each other for many years, whether from high school, college, or the military. What's more important is that you should be sharing many memories. But not the pink ones – you know, the ones that almost brought you to tears at the time, but sound funny when you tell them today.
If you don't know such a person, my advice is to go out and expand your circle as soon as possible. There are even specialized websites and events for finding co-founders.
3. Connections and funding
The following conversations take place among most folks who are more or less interested in entrepreneurship:
- Hey bro, company X has received an investment of Y million dollars, have you heard?
- Dude, yeah, these guys don't even have a proper website, I don't understand how it happened!
Of course, there is some jealousy in this sort of dialogue, because no one knows what kind of operational profitability or what kind of future plans lie behind that mediocre website. However, it is a fact that history is full of companies that took their place in the dusty pages of history after raising such capital but without achieving the slightest success.
The reason is simple: If you know potential investors in person, are liked by them, and are skilled in sales and marketing, your idea or execution doesn't matter that much.
Imagine that you have been creating a company on your own over the years by working your ass off, putting in all your savings, maybe by learning to write code, maybe by taking a mortgage from the bank, and you spend night and day to make your few customers happy. Then some scumbag puts your idea into practice in a much more lame way but with a much more funding, promotes it all over the place, and all of a sudden everyone is talking about him instead of you.
Sad but true. This happened to you because you ignored the third golden rule of a successful venture:
People and money are your armor.
Without them, you're vulnerable and open to a raid like the one above every day, no matter how well you do your job. If you don't know someone 'from above', meet someone who does; if you don't have the money, hang with the ones who do. Don't be fooled into thinking that entrepreneurship is a naive, docile, tolerant animal – It's a wild world out there.