Do not build a tech company (unless you've already successfully built a bunch of other companies before).
When we talk about startups, most of us think about building the next big thing. We want to change the world and see our dreams come true. The problem is that we all want to kick off our entrepreneurial career by trying to get into the Ivy League of building companies straight away. Building a VC financed and infinitely scalable tech company.
The picture that we have in our heads that motivates us to build multimillion dollar businesses can be compared to achieving the lifestyle of the Mexican fisherman that can hang out with his buddies all day long, play cards and only work when he really feels like it or is hungry.
The problem is that most of us just have way too many desires and needs and want to live in fancy apartments in big cities. A lifestyle that is usually too expensive to live an easy and relaxed life like the Mexican fisherman does. Hence, we quickly drop the idea again.
And that’s where we see startups (mainly tech companies) as the chance to escape our boring 9 to 5 life and start working on our dream that might some day allow us to live an easy and relaxed life, just like the Mexican fisherman does. Starting a company, a couple of years of hard work and we should be all set for the rest of our lives. Never having to work again.
To most of us, building infinitely scalable tech startups that will receive millions of VC financing and then yield in multimillion dollar exits seems to be an appropriate way to get there as fast as possible.
Unfortunately, tech companies are the Ivy League of building companies and it’s almost impossible to get in. But still, most of us try to get in without any proper preparation, training or experience.
Think about it. Would you try to get into Harvard, Stanford or Columbia without any proper education, preparation or track record? Let’s say without having any high school degree? I guess not.
But that’s exactly what we are trying to do. We are trying to enter the Ivy League of company building without any proper education, preparation or track record. Now how does all of this translate into the startup world?
For most of us it means that we want to start building a tech company without ever having built up any sort of business from the ground up. No experience whatsoever. It means that we never ever successfully sold a product that we made or sourced ourselves. If we never did any of those things how can we be able to build a successful tech company?
Try to successfully build up a bunch of less complex/important businesses first (Why selling orange juice is better than building a tech company) get more experienced, learn fast and get better every day.
To me, not having any experience as an entrepreneur is one of the biggest reasons why so many startups fail (even though it’s a lot easier to build companies these days). It’s the exact same reason why almost no one would ever get into an Ivy League colleague, unprepared. It’s the exact same reason why we will never be able to date the girl/guy of our dreams if we have no experience dealing with the opposite sex.
Without any proper experience or training as a founder we will almost always fail. No one is good right away in anything in life. And trying to figure something out by choosing the most complex and complicated thing (e.g. a tech company) is usually not a good idea.
You wouldn’t try teaching your seven year old kid math by starting off with high school level math, right? Same holds true for building companies. You wouldn’t want to start off trying to get into the Ivy League of building companies without having built any company before, right? Surprisingly most of us still have this exact goal and are convinced that it might work out.
Truth is, it usually doesn’t. Now what do I suggest as a possible solution? Here’s what I suggest (and live by myself):
Everyone that is really willing to start a company one day should start executing one or even a couple of her good or bad ideas today (e.g. making and selling orange juice), instead of waiting for the biggest and most complicated idea to execute on.
That way we will be a lot better prepared/trained and are a lot more experienced in executing, building up the demand, selling, growing our company, etc. once a really good opportunity (e.g. scalable tech idea) comes along.
I truly believe that the entire entrepreneurship thing can be learned. It’s just a matter of proper training, the willingness to learn and improve our game every day and a hell lot of patience and discipline.
So go out, start executing some of your ideas (good or bad), see how it goes and get more experienced in building up companies on rather “unimportant projects" today, instead of trying to learn how to fly during the most important projects of your lives.
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