Is it worth it to launch a startup or it is better to work for salary? Do the risks measure up with changing the routine and rhythm of life?
When I was working at one of the startups in Silicon Valley, California, my boss usually said, “If I stayed working for a wage, I should have earned much more…” These were the words of a man, who had launched several hi-tech startups from scratch in the sphere of plasma dynamics and atomic spectroscopy, which was sold for millions of dollars. This man was connected to almost every person in the American Vacuum Society from expositions and conferences. The man who could break into a laboratory after restless nights and spend several hours at the mount testing a new idea, and then, after discovering its non-operability, he used to say: “The man, who invented adhesive plaster thought in correct direction: you should think about the utility! This is the way to become a millionaire!” After that, he used to joke again: “If I stayed a wage-worker…”
Was he sorry about money he failed to earn? I suppose, he wasn’t. He would regret it more, if he didn’t try to do, what he wanted, and never felt that enthusiasm to search, discover, build success, and if he had no hope to launch an outstanding business. How could he feel otherwise, if he passed Microsoft and Yahoo offices everyday on his way to work and realized that he had launched his first startup earlier?
This is the lifestyle choice and the aim that shall be pursued. However, a startup is a great risk. You may spend years developing a 3D technology, which may be outstanding for your time, and you finish your work only when such technologies and its analog components would become things of the past. Do you remember the floppy disk? It had a volume of 1.5 Mb followed by the ZIP disk with a capacity of 100 Mb started to appear. Many of you have seen it in a functional state. After that, the JUZZ disk with an even larger volume was invented where most haven’t even heard of it! There were several personal communication devices such as e-mail, fax, notepad, calculator and record books that, yet to be born, have already been superseded by laptops and other competitive devices.
One of the developers of the EO Personal Communicator, which was invented by GO Corporation Ltd. in the early 1990s, planned to move from Great Britain to Silicon Valley. He said: “On Tuesday I learn my wife is pregnant with our first child, on Wednesday the realtor confirms the purchase of our house and on Thursday my employer (AT&T) notifies me, that I am dismissed.” However, he later wrote that he never regretted his participation in EO device development, as he called it “cheerful and adventurous”. And brilliant! However, in other cases, people sometimes do give away the tshirt off their back to an unsuccessful startup where they spend all their money, efforts and time. In such cases the failure to bring their dreams to life can lead to point of no return in their career and, in general, in their life.
So is it worth it to launch a startup? If you have such wishes and opportunities then certainly you should try. You should do it in order to be not sorry about it in the future. You should do it to strive to achieve your aims and goals. You should do it in order to prove yourself and to others that it’s possible. However, there are many risks, both reasonable and unreasonable. Let’s act according to reasonable risks.
What can be done for it?
1. Even at the stage of launching a startup idea, you should focus on finding a solution to an existing problem, but not a solution of a non-existing one.
2. Even at the stage of the idea development, you should analyze the market, the rivals and the analogs. You should evaluate the demand for such product or service and the risk of alternative products entering the market. You should not hastily assume there are no alternatives.
3. Even at the stage of the idea development, you should present your product or service in some way to potential consumers and achieve their tentative judgment. Even if the product or the service shall be kept in secret and is aimed to become a surprise to the market, you can often describe its consumptive qualities indirectly.
4. At the later stages, when the qualities and cost of the product or service are already determined, you should give an opportunity to the consumers to make a pre-order selections and evaluate the first wave of demand. However you should be cautious, as this first wave of forward-minded enthusiasts may become the last one.
5. You should present final samples of the product or the test version of your service to potential wholesale customers and conduct negotiations with them or organize test disposals to retail consumers.
6. A good way to take your startup through its paces is to try to attract outward investments. It’s preferable to attract field-oriented investors that are able to provide professional expertise even in the case you may fail to achieve investments. It would also make your team to structure the project and its business-plan more concisely.
7. In cases regarding Russian projects, you can apply for expert evaluation in Russian Startup Ratings. Though you should take into account that the description of your project and its evaluation (both positive and negative) would be available on the RST web site within half a year. There wouldn’t be a way back.
8. If I were you, I would also ask myself a question: what shall I do, if the project fails? In case the consequences may be disastrous, I would weigh all the pros and contras to decide not to launch a startup or, at the very least, determine the critical line in financial losses that shouldn’t be crossed.
Finally, everyone decides if they should try it or not for themselves. However many amazing things happen only because there are people who still believe in things that may seem impossible. I wish everyone good luck and weighed decisions!