It easier than ever to create a startup.
You can turn an idea into an app or an online service relatively quickly and inexpensively. It explains why entrepreneurship is exploding and there are startups offering solutions for everything.
The problem, however, is startups may be too easy to create. Simply because an entrepreneur has an idea doesn’t mean it’s the basis for a startup. In many cases, an idea is no more than an idea – something to be explored but not embraced as a new venture.
Unfortunately, too many ideas become startups. For whatever reason (unwavering optimism?), people who want to jump on the startup bandwagon pour time and money into creating an app or service. Suddenly, they have a product and all they have to do is convince the world it’s the best thing since sliced bread.
The problem, however, is the product is a nice-to-have rather than a need-to-have. It’s interesting but does not solve a problem or meet a pressing need. As Diana Kander writes about “All In Startup” it’s a headache solver rather than a migraine solver.
When I run into these startups, you wonder why people throw themselves into these projects. What are their motivations? What do they see that others don’t? Do they really think a problem is being addressed?
My take is most nice-to-have entrepreneurs haven’t done enough research. They have not talked to enough potential customers or assessed the competitive landscape. Instead, they assume it’s a viable idea because they think it will work, and there are people around them (friends and family) who provide encouragement and financial support.
Frankly, it’s a recipe for blind enthusiasm. There is an unsupported belief that somehow the entrepreneur will beat the odds. In a high-risk business, their idea is so good that success will happen. In most cases, there’s no success at all. Their product may loo
In most cases, there’s no success at all. Their product may look good and functionally work well but it is not compelling enough to attract enough customers to turn it into anything more than a hobby. It creates a false sense of optimism because there are users, which means it is not a total disaster. This only encourages the entrepreneur to continue their Don Quixote-like journey.
Before categorizing me as being a glass-half-empty person, there are instances where nice-to-have ideas miraculously turn into thriving businesses. For whatever reason, they beat the odds. It’s the reason why entrepreneurship is so seductive because you never know what could happen.
The other benefit of nice-to-have entrepreneurship is it provides people with experience and lessons about starting and running a business. Many entrepreneurs fail before they succeed so perhaps running with a nice-to-have idea is part of the journey. It’s hard to know how to be successful unless you know what to do and what not to do.
Here is my advice to people aspiring to be entrepreneurs: ask yourself is whether your idea is really that exciting or whether it solves a major pain or problem. Then, ask strangers (people who don’t know or like you) what they think about your idea.
If the response is “it’s interesting” or “sounds good”, move on to another idea. It will save you time, money and heartache.
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