Is Entrepreneurship Dying? A Look In The Past And The Cost To Entry In The Midst Of A Fast-Changing Society
Several years ago, Entrepreneurship was synonymous with being a failure. Not doing well at school/university, doing sales, and following one’s passion was a sin. Yet, going from a shame-figure to building a billion-dollar titan is what sticks in most people’s imagination nowadays. Success is preserved to the rigorous and failure finds its way to everybody else. How should we perceive the 99% failure rate of startups? Is there any potential left? If so, what is it? And how is Entrepreneurship mutating its way to the passion economy?
Successful entrepreneurs are put on a pedestal, rightfully so. Mark Cuban, Gary Vaynerchuk, and other colossal figures were, are, and will be preached for their “hard work”. But what got them where they are in the first place? According to Wikipedia, Mark Cuban’s debut “[...] first step into business occurred at age 12, when he sold garbage bags [...] selling stamps and coins. [...] running newspapers from Cleveland to Pittsburgh.”
Have you noticed a pattern? Let’s try again with Gary Vaynerchuk, according to Inc. “In his teens, he often made thousands in a weekend selling baseball cards. At the age of 14, he entered the family wine business.”
While many giants started from humble beginnings, they were outstanding salespeople. The vision was the product. The attribution of success to the internet boom is only half the story. As is always the case with consumer markets, that was a wave, and they used it to make their voices wide-heard.
Given my interaction with multiple entrepreneurs, I often hear, “no, I’m not a salesperson, I’m an entrepreneur”. But do both really differ? Debatable. Nevertheless, nothing trumps the fact that current entrepreneurs excel in communication. Bringing the topics down to first principles, decorticating the reasons behind a certain reaction, and understanding how the public thinks, are the skills required to sell people on your vision. Needless to say, communication isn’t restricted to selling but pitching and knowing what is needed in the market. And the holy source of how to communicate and ask questions is englobed in the Mom Test. Preslav Rachev - a high-end software engineer with a decade of experience - does the topic justice. He summarizes the key point of the book “The Mom Test” and it can serve as a quick guide before every call, check it out here
"Pessimists sound smart. Optimists make money." - Bat Friedman, CEO of Github.
With the current internet boom, everyone knows everything. The “expert beginners” are on the rise, the barrier to entry dissipated and the rise of the " Me Win - You Lose” culture has become the default vision. In a sense, this is the price of having a powerful tool at everyone’s disposition: Internet. If you want to make use of it at scale, you’ll have to deal with the downsides at scale.
It’s important to realize that the downsides scale as much as upsides do - Often. And it’s a matter of choosing what one is most willing to sacrifice. It’s only natural for the failure rate to skyrocket - 99% bankruptcy - when lowering the barrier to entry, however, what happens when you create an overwhelming power with infinite potential and open to public use? The fight over power. After a while, most business ideas that won the race are now thriving under the monopoly umbrella.
Is Entrepreneurship Dead?
No, it has mutated to one giant passion economy model integrated into B2C and B2B models. I highly recommend reading Li Jin’s article for an exhaustive view on The Passion Economy, (here)
Entrepreneurship is now more personalized than ever. Giants can’t respond to every person’s needs. Over-served and under-served consumers are on the rise. On the other side, it’s becoming increasingly hard to make your voice heard among all the noise. And we might start seeing more emphasis on a product-first approach, which assumes the product is solving a problem that certain people in the wild have.
Entrepreneurship is a first principle in itself. Asking whether it will thrive or diminish is as helpful as worrying about consuming all oxygen on earth. There is always room for creativity. Competition exists where there is a collision of identical visions. But that was in the past. Because now, is time to think about serving the marginal users from each market and help them make a living from their passion. And to be able to recognize the current needs. One needs to become a master communicator.
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