Friday, February 11, 2011

Ditching the Beer and Chugging the Tequila

Why the Impatient Startup is the First to Pass Out

What better way to bring in the weekend than with a guest blog from a young entrepreneur?  And what better topic to provide you with than partying?  Afterall, it's almost the weekend and almost time for you to relax and have a little fun.  Check out this blog by Adam Griffin, founder of BumblePost, written especially for our TBKC blog. 

You’re at a party. You’re enjoying yourself, sipping on a 6 pack, and having great conversation. Life is good. The night is progressing as it should. You go with the flow, just engaging in the friends and moments given to you. 

Then something happens. The front door swings open and slams into the door stopper. The music halts to a stop. Everybody at the party turns to look. Who barges in?  None other than that guy. You know the guy I’m talking about. The dude with a half empty bottle of tequila in hand, a profuse amount of sweat covering his t-shirt, and what seems like a megaphone announcing anything he says. He’s the guy that was destined to be belligerent from the first drink. Nothing was going to stand in the way of him getting from sober to sauced faster than anyone else at the party. Taking the slow and steady approach just wasn’t working for him on this particular night, so the beer was ditched and the big guns were pulled out.

Thirty minutes later he is passed out in the corner, bottle nearly empty, and a walking hangover in the making. He is officially that guy. Well today there seems to be a lot of that guy in the business world. The companies that are shot out of a cannon, make a lot noise in a short amount of time, and before you know it they are passed out. A flash in the pan. Another victim of the current climate for internet startups.

As the old story goes, 50% of businesses fail in the first year and 95% fail in the first five years.  I don’t know how accurate these numbers truly are, but I would imagine the number of failures for today’s internet startups is much higher. The internet has allowed anyone and everyone the opportunity to become an entrepreneur and own their own business. We are no longer in the era of creating a product, having physical space and inventory, and owning a business for decades or more. Today you don’t even need a product to sell. A good amount of online retailers don’t even have inventory of whatever they are selling! They are simply order takers, and the manufacturer drop ships whatever is sold. Ahh, the modern convenience of the internet. So in short, significantly fewer barriers of entry = significantly higher amount of businesses created, and thus many many failures along the way.

My generation’s mentality of “I want it now, and I don’t want to do a whole lot to get it” has created this massive flood of internet businesses that are around for a short period of time and are gone as quickly as they came. Bad news for them, but good news for you—if you take advantage of this reality that is. Choosing to sip your six pack of beer instead of chugging the bottle of tequila might be the difference in your business being around in 5 years. While others are in a rush to get to the pot of gold as fast as possible, you can methodically run the race and be one of the few to actually finish. And yes, I did use two completely different analogies in one sentence.

Taking advantage of today’s here and gone in an instant economy starts with the way you establish your business from the beginning. Ask yourself the following questions. Your answers could be the difference in “out of business and broke” and “in business and cash flowing”.

  • Do I have to quit my job to start this? Another way of asking this question is “When things don’t go as planned (because they won’t) and I’m out of money in 6 months, am I going to have to give up my business and go back to a normal job?”
  • Can I bootstrap this? Can you use your own cash and/or borrow from friends and family to get this started? Or is this company impossible to start without significant outside investment?
  • Am I passionate about this or am I simply infatuated? Not a whole lot different than dating. There will be times when you ask yourself “Why the hell did I do this?” That’s a promise. The difference maker is how you respond to that question.
  • Are my visions realistic? Are you banking on becoming the next big thing, or will you be content with slowly and methodically growing your business?
  • Do I have supportive people around me? Whether that’s business partners, a supportive group of friends and family, or mentors within your field, do you have a group of people that can be a part of your journey with you?
These are basic yet vital questions. The reason these are vital is because if you can say “No, I don’t have to quit my job. Yes, I can use my own cash to start. Yes, I’m passionate about this. Yes, my visions are realistic. Yes, I have supportive people around me”, then the only missing ingredient is the attitude to keep plugging away and get it done. Go out there, kick ass, and do it in a way that is uncommon in today’s business world.

Cheers. J    

~Adam Griffin

Adam Griffin is a Kansas City native and lives in Denver, CO. His current startup is an online greeting card company, BumblePost, that launches in March 2011. His ultimate goal in life is to motivate those around him to pursue dreams and goals they wouldn’t have pursued otherwise. His thoughts on this and all things business can be found on his blog, Ideas Don’t Work.

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