Sorry, but it is.
Pay attention to the figures and you quickly realize how daunting it is to create a new business. I’m not just talking about tech startups. I’m talking about the guy who is passionate about food and wants to open a restaurant. I’m talking about the girl who has an idea for a product she knows people would love, but doesn’t know where to start. About the person who is really, really good at doing the work, but isn't sure about all the... other stuff.
I’m talking about you, maybe.
An absurd percentage of companies fail in the first 18 months. Of those left, many fewer remain by their 5th anniversary. Out of that small number remaining…how many are companies that are healthy and adding jobs…and how many are struggling zombie companies that never make the leap from being “just enough” to pay for the owner and an employee or two, to being a healthy enterprise?
Now for a great number, the simple answer may be they are just not cut out to manage a business. Being passionate about something doesn’t make you GOOD at it. Being good at something doesn’t mean you can manage and motivate others to do it, or handle finances, or be able to go out and make sales, or market. Not every idea works, and not every business is a success. But we need to improve the odds. We need start by re-thinking what a business is supposed to look like.
We need to improve the odds.
At first glance, almost every story about an "entrepreneur" is singular. It's a glossy version of reality in which one person fearlessly jumped into the void and somehow built something amazing with only their own two hands. While that may indeed happen from time to time, I think it's the wrong route. We create false narratives of infallible CEOs, prescient visionary business leaders, and so on. The reality is for every solo success story there are probably eight or nine solo failures.
Those odds suck, yet this is the environment we create, and we perpetuate. We say "go forth into the battle" without the resources or the team to make success likely, then say "I guess they just didn't have what it takes" when they fail. That's stupid. We don't educate our kids this way. We don't coach sports teams this way. Yet, this is exactly how most small businesses start out. Alone, in a vacuum, poorly capitalized and unable to accurately measure their key metrics. Lacking a clear plan and business model. Missing the key team members needed to be successful.
A Belief In Cooperation
The reality is everyone is good at some things, so-so at some things, and flat out terrible at some things. There is no person that's an exception to this rule.
All the data tells us that partnerships ultimately create stronger businesses, higher success rates, and most importantly, faster growth when compared to solo startups. The tech industry figured this out a long time ago. Many VCs and angel investors almost automatically put a check in the no box when they see a solo founder - it means the business is going to be bottlenecked by what one person can do, and it's possibly a warning sign that this person wasn't able to enlist anyone else to join them in the journey.
Yet, most small businesses start out with a single person, sitting in their own little sandbox, trying to get better at the things they aren't very good at fast enough to avoid failure. It's like someone learning to swim in shark infested waters while someone also pelts you with math problems. Sure, it could be done, but it's a stupid way to go about things.
It's time to create businesses cooperatively.
Instead of viewing starting a new business as something to obsess over in private, hiding from the outside world, we need to start thinking of creating new businesses as a sort of social exercise, creating connections and opportunities that could become businesses if the right people and resources can be assembled. Then, after having the right core group of people, start working on the actual business idea. Because now you have a team worth trying to play the game with.
The reality is that ideas are a dime a dozen. Actually, less than that - I'll pay you exactly nothing for a great idea. But an idea backed by 2 or 3 people who are passionate about a shared goal, have complementary skills and personalities? Now that's where I get excited and start imagining all the possibilities...
Now make it happen.
PS... Do you have a business or idea you are passionate about that you want to explore? Contact us with your idea, and schedule a tour of our Coworking and Incubator space to see if it's the place to grow your business.