Time to get started

October 19, 2008

In times of change, new opportunity is always created. Always.

Many have written on the opportunity created by this economic downturn. Here are some of the excerpts:

Mick from Pollenizer writes:

1. You don’t need a boom to grow.
2. Better access to great people.
3. A slump doesn’t stop spending, and it increases in some areas.
4. There is still money available if you look hard, and you deserve it.
5. The community is still here to support you.
6. The big guys cut back on R&D letting you do the innovating. 

Paul Graham writes:

The economic situation is apparently so grim that some experts fear we may be in for a stretch as bad as the mid seventies.

When Microsoft and Apple were founded.

If we’ve learned one thing from funding so many startups, it’s that they succeed or fail based on the qualities of the founders. The economy has some effect, certainly, but as a predictor of success it’s rounding error compared to the founders.

So maybe a recession is a good time to start a startup. It’s hard to say whether advantages like lack of competition outweigh disadvantages like reluctant investors. But it doesn’t matter much either way. It’s the people that matter. And for a given set of people working on a given technology, the time to act is always now.

And Rajesh Jain writes:

For entrepreneurs, they need to forget about the craziness around and just focus on the business and market. The stuff that’s happening has little or no impact on the business of most early stage companies — in most cases, their revenue base is too small to see any negative impact from “market conditions.” So, any sales person giving market slowdown as a reason for not meeting targets needs to be given a talking to!

I also think this is a great time to get alternative / disruptive ideas to consumers and businesses. Everyone is much more receptive to  discussions about solutions which provide better ROI. (And without a simpler, cheaper solution, entrepreneurs don’t really have much of a chance anyways.)

Getting started today with the right idea is indeed an attractive prospect. If, however, you are two years in to your company and looking for extra funding without real traction or poof points, times are going to get very tough.
 
For startups in this category, I would suggest taking a long hard look at the value you bring to the table, and finding a partner who can absorb and propel your assets through these tough times.
  
I was interviewed fo the NYT on Friday on this very subject. I suggested the same thing to the reporter.
 
More conversation over on Silicon Beach as well (I got many of my snippets from there).
 

The Audacity of Hope

February 23, 2008

In the past few months I have been reminded by many that hoping for a thing does not make it true. Watching the US Presidential Election I have heard the same theme emerge as Hilliary Clinton attempts to question Barack Obama’s ability to convert lofty and eloquent speeches into real change. I even posted a Seesmic video about it recently.

The question I have, though, is if hope does not make something happen, then what does?

Doesn’t all action involve hope? Is not hope a key ingredient for change?

Before one can achieve a thing, they must first imagine it. Before they act on their imagining they must first dare to hope that they could actually have some impact on the outcome.

Even decisions made based on fear involve a hope to avoid that which we fear.

Hope is a powerful driving force. It enables us to act. Without hope, we are often paralyzed.

Most people I talk to who ‘wish’ they could do something better, or more ambitious, have a common refrain. They dare not hope that their more lofty goals are attainable. They therefore do not act.

Imagine if you could gather a large enough group of people to hope for the same outcome. If you had the right mix of participants and the right critical mass, is there anything that hope, followed by action, can not achieve?

Criticizing hope is actually a thinly veiled claim of naivety or unjustified idealism. If one’s hopes are too big, too ambitious or too lofty, then surely they must be too naive to understand the complexity of the issue and the magnitude of the challenge ahead.

Maybe that’s true. Maybe those who start with hope and push for change have not yet been sufficiently jaded by a broken system or violent resistance to their ideas.

Maybe, though, if those idealistic and naive people (if in fact they are those things) can somehow encourage others to hope, and then still others; maybe, just maybe, hope will turn into action, and action will turn into real change.

To paraphrase the West Wing… “Do you think a small group of dedicated people can change the world” “Of course, it’s the only thing that ever has”.

Hope is not empty. It can never be false. Hope, well expressed and shared, is the beginning of something new.

Dare to hope. Then act.