“Who are your main competitors?”
How many times have you heard an entrepreneur tell you that “there is no competition” and that they are alone in the entire, vast market?
It’s not uncommon that entrepreneurs, especially first time ones without strong entrepreneurship education, have a rosier picture of the world than the intense reality that exists.
And it is even natural that as entrepreneurs have to build themselves up, boost their own confidence, it might get translated into some of the less fortunate avenues.
Why is this an issue?
First of all, whenever any experienced individual hears the words “no competition” and other expressions like it, it sets off alarm bells.
No competition means no market, right?
Or at the very least it means that the entrepreneur hasn’t realized who their competition is at the moment and who they will be down the line. But not to pick on this one case, but rather outline a broader issue of misplaced optimism.
The case of competition is just one topic, but there are many other ‘little things’ that raise red flags.
There are seldom startup cases where something is unique, even though the entrepreneurs would gladly see it that way. Having an idea is great, it would be awful if people didn’t have ideas, but an idea alone is worth nothing.
Execution and putting your money where your mouth is, commitment to building your venture and attracting others to join you, that’s already worth something.
However rest assured you will be challenged on the journey to the top.
Especially as you get to a certain point, build significant interest around you, even turn away investors and get just the right investor on board, it’s easy to fall complacent and think it will get easier.
True, some things will get easier, but some things will get a lot more complicated.
With entrepreneurship, it’s never over.
It’s easy to think, that when I do A, B and C, then we will be successful and the stormy seas will settle down. Truth be told, sometimes that thinking is what saves the day, but in the long term that will be a fallacy that might drive one nuts.
And pretending that the ride will not be bumpy, might quickly prove dangerous with more stakeholders in the venture.
Entrepreneurs should always be conscious of the signals they are sending to different stakeholders, since it will affect expectations of those working with you in whatever capacity.
If the expectations are not met, it will create problems explicitly and implicitly.
How to solve these problems is one part, but planning for the bumpy ride and communicating it to the team behind the venture may be an instrument to keep eyes open and defuse ugly situations ahead of time.
There are problems when you have no money, but there are more problems when you have a lot of money.
Naturally the problems present themselves in different stages of startup ventures and are of various different characteristics, but the challenges an entrepreneur faces are the core part of entrepreneurship and doing something new.
The sooner you realize that it’s not the sunny day once a year that you should look forward to, but rather learn to enjoy the storm, the sooner you’ll build a sustainable model for handling the needed growth.
After all, entrepreneurs are a crazy bunch.
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