People sometimes ask me why I spend time writing articles and blogs. My response is usually that I feel I have a responsibility to help others. Starting a business is not easy, and maybe my five cents worth will help. This thought was foremost in my mind when I clicked on an audio interview done by the Harvard Business Review with Dan McGinn called, What’s Wrong With Today’s Entrepreneurs. The interview was based on an article written in the Harvard Business Review by McGinn called “Too Many Pivots Too Little Passion” , you can read it and link to the interview here.
The article is based on McGinn reading a slew of new books on entrepreneurship such as; Launch Pad, Lean Startup and The Ultralight Startup. These books McGinn realized posited a new breed of entrepreneurship. In days of old, an entrepreneur was driven by passion, endured rejection, skepticism and financial deprivation to realize their dream. The new breed views entrepreneurship from the viewpoint of the end game, getting funded by Venture Capitalists. The idea is not driven by passion but by what will get them money, in the article McGinn highlights one example:
“Maybe he’d create a smartphone app that highlights specials at nearby bars…or a scheduling program for medical residents…or a spam detection service…or a subscription grocery-delivery business…or a social travel website. He and his partner debated “pivoting” from one nascent business to the next, even as the clock ticked toward the all-important “Demo Day,” when they were to present their ideas to investors.”
McGinn admits that being willing to listen to feedback is valuable for any start up, but this is not about fine tuning an idea but jumping between whole sectors. The premium example of this is Dropbox, a company that was funded based purely on a presentation, there was nothing else, no prototype, nothing. It made me think about the $7000 I spend having a professional business plan written on the advice of mentors who told me you need a solid business plan. Maybe I was born too soon, but I can put together very snappy presentations in an afternoon at no cost. It reminded me of what happened in the financial sector. It used to be that investment bankers invested in companies to help them grow, now it is about gaming the system with hedges and other financial vehicles. We all know where that leads to.
In the book The Ultralight Startup the author recommends spending no more that $200 on a new business. I would like to think that a business that will define me and my work requires more than what it costs to get my car tuned up. Now admittedly this is the Wild West of Technology, the gold rush of Silicon Valley where anyone with some programming know-how can create a Pets.com or an Excite.com gets millions of dollars and then disappear and be forgotten in months. What benefit does it really have? Could not those funds and talents have been better spent creating an advanced and cheaper battery for electric cars, or some other technology that will be around for decades instead of weeks.
This brought me back to the thought of why I bother even writing these articles. The goal and satisfaction in entrepreneurship is making a dream come through, one that will have an impact long after one is gone. It isn’t really about making money, it is more like mountain climbing. The challenge is getting to the top, the reward is accomplishing it. It is why so many climbers when reaching the top of Everest remember not reaching the peak, but the struggle they had getting there. That is the reason I like to write these articles because they provide support and encouragement to those struggling to make their passion into a viable business. Guess I’m old fashioned but something of value is something worth fighting for.
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Peter Doyle is an award winning media marketing, news and documentary producer using rich media to accelerate innovation and commercialization. Check me out at http://www.linkedin.com/in/peterjdoyle