RIDING THE STAGES
That’s the description cited often by experienced entrepreneurs and their investors. It may sound strange to a first-timer, but the veterans know what that descriptive phrase means.
Exactly what kind of bicycle will emerge will remain a mystery. The final version will surprise even the founder. There will be so many challenges encountered while building the new enterprise, that even a rough guess on the outcome is very uncertain. That’s one reason many people enjoy doing a startup: no one knows what’s going to happen!
One thing is certain: the original idea will not be what is launched. There will many events and unexpected turns along the startup trail that will be huge challenges to the founder and company builders. They’ll quickly find themselves absorbedwith changing,adapting and altering the early plan for the company. I’ve found the outcome to most likely to result in a business that is vastly different than the initial idea for the startup. Looking backward, I have often listened to startup people remark that the changes were so fast, so often, so unexpected that they were amazed at what product the startup eventually sold, compared to what they had initially expected.
One example that stands out is what was expressed to Inc. magazine by Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba:
“I call Alibaba "1,001 mistakes." We expanded too fast, and then in the dot-com bubble, we had to have layoffs. By 2002, we had only enough cash to survive for 18 months. We had a lot of free members using our site, and we didn't know how we'd make money. So we developed a product for China exporters to meet U.S. buyers online. This model saved us. By the end of 2002, we made $1 in profits. Each year we improved. Today, Alibaba is very profitable.
BOTTOM LINE: It will be very awkward. Get used to it or get out. It cannot be avoided.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!
Stories from a startup coach
40 Years in Silicon Valley
300 Startups $2 Billion Raised