Why You Should Embrace Your Inner Startup
Going it alone doesn't work. You need a team to reach your potential. The pioneer inside needs you to circle the wagons if you're going to complete your journey.
To win in life and in business, you must embrace your inner startup.
Depending on where you're from, the term “startup” could mean different things. Here, in Austin, everyone seems to want to either work for a startup or start a startup.
For a long time, I avoided using the term for what I was doing with my business. Because, to me, a “startup” is a company with offices and employees and overhead and board members and shares to be offered in return for work.
I want none of that.
But, over the past few weeks, I've come to understand the power of the word. While the term could mean different things, the word “startup” usually carries with it an air of pioneer-ism – of striking out on one's own, of bucking the status quo, of collaboration and of taking risks and doing something that may not work.
The Inner Solo-preneur
Instead of collaborating or reaching out for help, they hunker down, shut out the world and get to work. And while this is often necessary for success, they're missing the point of becoming a solopreneur.
What embodies the spirit of the solopreneur is a sense of freedom, adventure, hard work and calculated risk.
While I understand and appreciate the “I'm going to do this no matter what” mentality, many solo-entrepreneurs are missing the key component that makes “startups” so successful and the biggest threats to the status quo. See, startups are so powerful not because they're able to move quickly or adjust to changes in the market; startups are powerful because they think differently.
Why You Should Embrace Your Inner Startup
Startups bring people from various areas of expertise together toward a goal. Instead of doing things the way things have always been done, startups look to leverage the collective knowledge of the team to come up with something new.
The origin story of Apple, arguably one of the most talked about “startups” in recent history, is one that talks not about a lone wolf writing code in a garage, but of two men, unlikely friends, trying change the world.
If you're reading this and don't have a mastermind, a personal board of directors you can lean on, or a partner to help you strategize and problem solve, it's time to embrace your inner startup. It's impossible for you to see every obstacle headed your way, you need someone watching your back.
Even if your plan isn't to have an office and divvy up shares to stockholders, I know mine isn't, we can learn a lot from these startups.
The Real Point
Now that I've shared a little of my frustrations about the self-inflicted isolationism of the everyday solopreneur, let me share why I really wanted to write this post.
If you're in “startup” mode, embrace the fact that that's where you are. Instead of trying to sound bigger than you are, own your infancy.
Many of my fellow entrepreneurs want to seem established. They, I assume, don't want to be tied to the fly-by-night businesses of the '90s who were here today and gone tomorrow, leaving clients with empty pockets in their wake. I get it.
I get it but I think it's backfiring. Instead of owning the fact that they're new in their business ventures, these solo-artists are shooting themselves in the foot. In their effort to seem credible and avoid the skepticism that accompanies newer companies, what they're really saying is,
Oh ya, I've been around for a while. Oh, you've never heard of me? Well, I, uh,…
Don't be afraid to be new, baby-faced and honest with your business. You'd be better served by disclosing the fact that you're looking for your first client than you'd be by hiding it and the client figuring it out later when your inexperience and timidity is obvious.
The BS Detector
These days you'd be hard-pressed to find someone without a finely tuned BS detector. Most people are skeptical anyway, so why try to deceive them?
Sure, we may donate our time or money or give to charity, but when it comes to spending our hard-earned dollars, we've learned to guard our coffers with diligence.
But, from my experience, anyone who embraces transparency and shares what they're working on, as much as why they're working on it, will begin to attract attention.
And rightly so. Anyone doing something worth noticing will get noticed.
But here's the rub.
If you're doing something interesting, something worth noticing, you can't do it all yourself. Success takes a team.
And, success takes time.
However, with a team, the time it takes can be reduced from years to months, or from months to weeks. Embrace your inner startup and surround yourself and your work with the people who can help get it done.
Your time spent building your business cannot also be the same time you spend burying your head in the sand, hoping it will all fall into place someday.
Opportunity is a false security blanket and a crutch that's actually keeping you limping. If you want to make your business work, it's up to you to make it happen. Open the garage, embrace your inner startup, and let people see what you're working on; don't try to do it all with the door closed, you'll smother.