The Startup Entrepreneur's Greatest Challenge
The startup entrepreneur's greatest challenge is to weigh possible sunk costs (throwing good money or effort after bad), against the power of persistence.
Time and effort are the entrepreneur's greatest inherent assets. These are complemented by capital, a good supporting team (and good advice) and a large network of active relationships. The entrepreneur in the startup phase of his or her business should expect to face numerous, often discouraging obstacles to adoption and success. And arriving at an appreciable success can take time. During this time period the entrepreneur may well be faced with doubts about the viability of his or her basic idea.
The challenge, while the startup entrepreneur is watching and waiting, is to determine if the project has enough quality and substance to continue expending time, effort and capital into it, or whether the viability just isn't there, and to write the expenditure to that point off as a sunk cost, and shift his or her focus to another project – to “scrub the mission” and proceed to another, unrelated project. Choosing whether or not to invest further into the project and allow time to be the determining factor of success is a critical decision.
There is so much to be said (and there are so many stories) of entrepreneurs and inventors who believed so fervently in the viability, importance and marketability of what they were doing that they just held their ground and kept on plugging away until the tides started to turn in favor of success. Then there are the untold stories of the hordes of aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs who mistook a lack of early-stage success for a lack of viability that they simply quit. In some cases, the decision to quit was warranted – in other cases (and we'll never be able to get any statistics on these), had the entrepreneur or inventor continued along the course, it might have caught on – or with some modification, it might have been a certain winner.
Things are not always that black and white. If the entrepreneur or inventor truly believes in the viability of the idea, and, upon discussion with some or his or her advisors, mentors and relationship contacts, gets some positive feedback about the idea, perhaps the best solution is to reframe or to re-package some aspect of the idea at issue instead of simply throwing away erroneously. Perhaps the idea, project, or invention is just not being represented in its most appealing fashion. Sometimes “tweaking” the presentation or packaging of the idea will accelerate its course to adoption and success.
As a startup entrepreneur, I would plead with you not to jettison an idea about which you are truly passionate. While I don't believe in wasting resources on an idea, project or invention which is simply not good, I believe that we believe in our ideas for a reason. Whether that reason is just a function of our own strong opinion or whether it is a manifestation of the collective conscientiousness, please give your idea, your dream a chance to flourish... and instead of abandoning something which could truly be ingenious, invest some time and solicit feedback regarding a potential reframing, repositioning or repackaging of your idea. It's far better to “tweak” some aspect of a brilliant idea (or its presentation) than to throw away an asset which may prove to be something of great utility to Humanity... or at least a market segment of it.
Startup entrepreneurs: You've put so much thought and passion into your idea, project or invention. Evaluate your situation very carefully before you write off your dream as a sunk cost. Your tenacity and audacity (these plus some creativity and a modifications) might well mean the difference between a slow start to a certain success or another contribution to the ever-increasing junkpile of great starts which were stillborn or aborted because the entrepreneur simply gave up and quit too soon.
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startup, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship business, persistence, sunk costs, patience, GEI Consulting, Douglas E Castle, capital, team, project, invention, innovation...
Thank you as always for reading me.
Douglas Castle for Global Edge International Consulting Associates, Inc. and The Global Edge International Blog
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