May 21, 2010

Narrowing The Start-Up

Easier Said Than Done

If you’ve ever been involved in launching a company, you have felt the excitement and frustration.

It used to simply be about launching a new company, now many call it a Start-Up.

It sounds feisty. It has hope and velocity. Go get ‘em Start-Up! You can do it!

Imagine

You have an idea which is void of doubt or financial constraint. It’s just a beautiful pure inspiration. The business stuff isn’t even a concern at this point.

If your skin is in the game it can be tough. If you stick with it, it can be rewarding.

Create

You have passed the imagine stage which can be filled with ideas that may or may not work, brainstorming that can go in all directions and the realization that it could just happen.

Then the create stage where you and your team have found a way to begin to realize the imagined idea in to a concrete way. Things are beginning to roll. You may be bootstrapping, you maybe be looking for funding, but all in all, things are beginning to take shape.

Expand

As the imagined idea turns in to a real business you begin to expand. The buzz of progress is now a constant hum, the no’s are taken in stride because the yes’s are coming fast and furious. Revenue negates stumbles and the trajectory is realized.

Narrow

Every company goes through it. You need to let your idea become concrete then expand then you must hone in on the essence of what you are trying to do. It can be distracting to see large corporations like Google and Apple expanding in all directions but that won’t work for you.

Customers are stretching you outside of your offer zone and you begin to wonder if the original idea is still intact. Your short-term greed replaces your long term goals. And hard decisions need to be made. You can’t be all things to all people or you will be nothing to no one.

Source the Crowd

I posed three questions on Twitter and asked for responses via DM. No names or details would be shared, just top line stuff. Answers had to be 140 characters or less.

The questions were: 1. How long in start-up mode? 2. When will you stop calling it a start-up? 3. Biggest challenge so far?

In ten minutes, I received 23 replies.

Here are some responses...

Mar 1 after a year in dev. Probably year after going live. Coordinating a small team where we all wear several hats.

One year. 2-3 yrs or when we can pay bills consistently. Bldg initial infrastructure & exploiting dev opps simultaneously.

3 years. Hard question, probably never. Bizdev w/ trusted partners to accelerate axs to market.

6 months. When I get my investment of $$ back. Delegating.


Thanks to everyone who was open enough to share their journey.

If you want to start a company, do it. It will be hard and frustrating, exciting and freeing and there will be times when you feel completely alone and others when you realize you have cheerleaders where you least expect them.

Work your butt off and walk through walls if you have to and on those days when you feel it would be easier to toss in the towel, look in the mirror and ask that person before you do.

If you have a team, do the same to them. Before you build anything, you need to be able to look each other straight in the eye to see if everyone is watching the same movie. Imagine. Create. Expand. Narrow.

And learn from someone who has been through his share of start-ups and can often forget that he doesn't have to do this alone - don't be afraid to ask for help! Then be gracious when someone offers it.

What are your thoughts?

@knealemann
strategy. marketing. social media.

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photo credit: mirror-us-ga1
 
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