Dear (Student) Entrepreneurs : Your *Startup* is Killing..Your Startup

Lately, I have been meeting a lot of young students who want to do a startup.killbill.jpg

By a startup, they actually mean a startup that will have a founding team, a business plan, a revenue model and of course, an exit strategy!

But. There is a problem.

Very few of them are actually able to take the idea to the next stage. Maybe not more than 5%.

Of all the things, most of the non-computer science engineering students aren’t able to find a tech co-founder. And one of the bigger challenge is fear of failure. Plus, statements like  ’I don’t know how to write a business plan‘ to ‘I don’t know marketing‘ to ‘How do I incorporate’ just add to the ‘how do I get started’ syndrome.

Of course, these are important questions to answer. But hey! have you come across a situation where you hire traffic police before building the road?

Do (student) entrepreneurs really need to prepare the theoretical business plan in order to ‘get started’?

Why Your Startup is Killing Your Startup.

Because your startup is  actually NOT a startup. Calling an idea a startup makes it look very serious. It suddenly increases your personal ‘brand value’ among peers.

‘Hey! I am doing a startup’!!

Media loves it!

You now stand a greater chance of attention from the opposite sex!

Suddenly, your seniors and juniors look up to you and ask you a lot of ‘BIG questions’ (like business model, monetization model etc etc). You enjoy answering them as well!

But Still..

Your startup is killing your startup.

Because you are actually not starting up. While you have taken a big decision to ‘do something’, calling it a startup is actually hurting your startup.

Here is why:

- You just removed the luxury of failure. You yourself made it look damn serious (by calling it a ‘startup’). While this can be called gutsy, you have also raised the expectations of people around you.

After all, you are ‘doing a startup’, i.e. some serious shit! And then they’d expect you to come up with a business plan, 5-year projections, co-founders/hiring plan etc.

And you have no clue about this. And since you do not have a clue, you are probably spending more time answering questions that you shouldn’t (how do I monetize? how do I get a co-founder? etc etc)

What IF?

What if you call your ‘startup’ an Experiment?

After all, that ‘s what it is!

Experiments usually fail and people have less expectations from them. Nobody asks ‘What’s your business plan of the experiment that you are currently doing?‘. ‘Do you have a co-founder for your experiment?‘.

The thing is that experiments usually result in nothing (money wise)- so does a lot of startups (!). But given that majority of student startups are all about ‘exploring new new things/developing stuff’, it’s important that you take off the burden of doing mindless excel based revenue forecasting/PPT based business plan and learn to do something more meaningful.

That is, be a DOER.

Maybe, the Entrepreneur tag can wait?