Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The start up eldorado

Many blog posts I read and forums on entrepreneurship are filled with hype and half-truths. In many ways it reminds me of stories of gold digging over 100 years ago. Lured by the promise of fortunes, thousands of young men (and I assume woman) trekked in search of riches. Myths became reality, and the very few success stories soon fueled an entire industry around prospecting. Suppliers, transport, gold-exchange etc.

In many ways, I see the same thing happening around me - there are pitching events, workshops on how to attain funding, buzz-words and book-lists. The hype also elevates otherwise ordinary people to god-like status - a twenty something VC worker, a pitch event organizer etc. I recently saw a post asking for the best book on start-ups. Thats like asking what is the best TV program in the world. For one thing, the conception of what a start-up is and in fact what an entrepreneur is differs from person to person, from economy to economy. If you trawl the academic literature you won't find anything very coherent in terms of definition. These are in fact people who have dedicated their professional lives to studying the topic. Whats more, there is hardly even a mention of the entrepreneur in a vast majority of economic theory !

Secondly, while would all love to understand and know the traits of the "perfect entrepreneur" - despite thousand of research projects, many flawed articles and dissertations, the results are totally inconclusive. In truth we all to quick to forget about the context. Different times require, different skills and traits and so do different types of businesses etc etc. Would Alan Sugar make it in todays world or what about Donald Trump or Richard Branson ? The answer is "who knows, maybe, maybe not".

Instead of searching for that horde of gold, the percentage game (borrowed from golf or tennis) would be to do your research, speak to people, network and plan, plan, plan. Most businesses take a long time to build (in fact most never really grow), understand this and keep moving forward. There are no magic tricks, no courses, workshops or golden rules. When you have accepted that, you have made the first big step in becoming and entrepreneur (whatever that is for you)

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