The Truth About Owning Your Future Through Entrepreneurship
When it comes to owning your future, DECA provides plenty of ways to explore your opportunities in marketing, business, finance, hospitality, fashion and more.
However, if these typical industries don’t excite you, there’s always the creative and fast-paced world of entrepreneurship. After all, there’s no better way to #OwnYourFuture than to literally create it yourself!
3 Day Startup teaches entrepreneurial skills to students around the world, and has worked with tens of thousands of student entrepreneurs over the years. They’ve heard just about every common myths surrounding student entrepreneurship and are here to share the truth, so you can be better prepared to create your own future!
STARTUP MYTH 1: PEOPLE WILL STEAL YOUR IDEA FOR A STARTUP
Your first idea for a startup is like your first child. In your certainty that it can change the world, you are blind to its weaknesses. This lack of objectivity sometimes causes young entrepreneurs to over-inflate the significance of an idea.
We know the idea myth is real because we routinely receive emails from students asking how they can maintain their secrecy in an open, collaborative environment. The trouble with the idea myth is that it downplays the level of hard work required to launch a company. While having a great idea for a startup is important, it matters little in comparison with the ability to develop and execute a sophisticated business model.
STARTUP MYTH 2: INVESTORS HEAR A GREAT IDEA AND WHIP OUT THEIR CHECKBOOKS
Securing investors is an excursion that, according to Vijay Thakkar, the founder of Jolly Company, “will take up 80% of your time as an entrepreneur.” In other words, landing investors is no casual undertaking. Consider this: for all intents and purposes, your investors will be your employers. They want to know you and your startup are a winning bet. Expect them to fill a dossier on every salient detail on you and your company
Young entrepreneurs will be tempted to snatch the first check they see, no questions asked. This is almost always a mistake that can precipitate a rocky partnership.
Serious investors will expect entrepreneurs to throw countless hours into learning everything they can about the person who wants to make their dreams a reality. You need to know your investor. Who have they invested in? What is their relationship with previous companies in which they have invested? Do they share your values? Will they give the right amount of time and attention to make you succeed?
Bottom line: know your investor.
STARTUP MYTH 3: PEOPLE READ BUSINESS PLANS
Business plans are slowing meandering down the Myspace path to irrelevance (some would argue they arrived long ago). We see a trend in schools decreasing their emphasis on business plan competitions for short-form intensives such as 3DS, as well as pitch competitions.
The trouble with business plans is that you are attempting to predict the future, rather than taking iterative snapshots of the present, learning from them, adjusting and evolving quickly.
Unless a serious investor requests it, any student considering writing a business plan would be better served to spend those 50+ hours on an application to TechStars or Capital Factory Accelerator.
STARTUP MYTH 4: ALL STARTUPS ARE TECH RELATED
Remember “there’s an app for that”? That was so five years ago. It was only a few years ago that apps could do everything from identifying constellations to finding a friend with whom to share a plate of fish sticks and tartar sauce (somebody needs to develop a “fish stick finder” app).
Yes, when we hear stories of startups that blow up overnight, they are usually tech. This does not mean that a startup must be tech- related. At 3DS, we see an increase in non-tech startup ideas. Sure, these concepts might not achieve the mind-numbing climb of Slack and Instagram, but they are plenty feasible.
STARTUP MYTH 5: CUSTOMERS CARE ABOUT CLEVER FEATURES.
We have observed time and again that startups do well when they reduce complexity. Features add complexity. Complexity adds weight. Features require more thinking and input from your users. Every second that requires a customer to think and add input increases your likelihood of losing that customer forever.
As an entrepreneur, your job is to solve your customer’s problem as elegantly as possible. Features seldom solve problems.
STARTUP MYTH 6: IF PEOPLE AREN’T INTERESTED IN YOUR STARTUP, IT MEANS YOU’RE A VISIONARY.
Some take rejection harder than others. It’s tempting to explain away criticism and apathy as coming from laggards that don’t know what they want.
Disinterest from potential users can be tricky terrain to navigate. We at 3DS encourage students to talk to countless customers to better understand needs, problems, and pains. An inability to find interested customers may mean that your startup doesn’t have wheels. It could also mean that people you are talking to are not your customers. But before dismissing dissenters as fossils who don’t know what they want, be sure that someone out there does.
This article was written by Maia Donohue from 3 Day Startup. Learn more about 3 Day Startup and its resources for aspiring entrepreneurs at 3daystartup.org.