- All Community
It's 2012 and the entrepreneurial world has become big business. Nearly every urban center has one or more communities based out of colleges, incubators, or shared office spaces. Surrounding all of this you'll find cocktail mixers, meet-ups, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and full-blown conferences dedicated to start-ups and entrepreneurs.
This is really great. You used to have to go to an expensive business school to garner the type of support you can now get by just getting involved and showing up. Access to advisers and experienced entrepreneurs has never been easier.
There is a great many benefits to having such an open and accessible community. However, there are also downsides and I don't think it gets talked about enough. I'm talking about the aspect of having too many cooks in the kitchen. Too many voices interfering with your vision. Too many people listening to your vision, not immediately understanding its potential, and offering advice that may not be the right advice.
As a new entrepreneur, you may listen to a lot of negative advice or commentary about your vision and get very depressed. To add insult to injury, there is a paradigm in the start-up community of "fail fast" or "build a minimally viable product or service" first.
What if your product or service requires a long on-ramp? What if you know your target customers are hard to reach and figuring out how to reach them is your real battle?
If this is the case, spending time with the minimally viable product community may actually be unproductive in the ways they normally work. It may be great to socialize and look for like-minds. But it may actually be better to not sell your ideas to these people.
Or your idea may really be a bad one. If you feel very strongly about your vision, you should probably consider how you approach other people. If you really do have something that has a quick on-ramp and you're looking to hit the open market today, then by all means share with everyone. But if you think you have a longer on-ramp, you may be better off slowly gathering people into your advisory board and management team. Many of the networking events are geared towards fast start up time. All of the 10 minute pitches are really meant for businesses with a completed product and existing customers. They're not meant for an idea and certainly not meant for an abstract or complex product or service.
Those of us with complex products or services live with the frustration of communicating our ideas, but it makes them no less important or viable. It just gives us a heavier burden in reaching out to the right people to fund our ideas. If you find yourself in this position, I recommend you keep pushing until you have a definitive answer on whether your product or service is viable. Don't fall for the trap of comparing your product or service to an overnight iPhone app that sells ten thousand downloads. That's not your model. Don't associate your model with it.
Don't get caught up in the minimally viable product culture. Don't get caught up in the fail fast mentality. Building a business is hard work and takes time.
Take that time. Do the hard work.