Sunday evening here in Shenzhen, China. The photo attached to today’s blog post is from the top of Nanshan Mountain. I hiked it this afternoon, a few friends may have gone, but they didn’t feel like going. I still went. I tried to go the whole way up without stopping, but had to take a break about 3/4 along the way. Maybe I should have eaten lunch a few hours earlier. It felt good to get to the top of that mountain today. Refreshing, fulfilling.
Its been almost exactly 1 year since I went out and put 100% of my attention to Social Agent Limited (aka Weibo Agent). Starting something, as an excited and creative entrepreneur is easy. Its when there are challenges, obstacles, that is when it defines you as a person, as well as a business person.
I think the best way to reflect on this is to give some various scenarios:
Temptations to Do Something Else
As an entrepreneur, we’re normally meeting many people, talking about tons of business opportunities. Especially as the business co-founder (aka “hustler”), many times our business development meetings and sales calls can easily get swayed into off-topic conversations and new business deals.
I think its a huge challenge for an entrepreneur to stay focused on that 1 venture they have committed to, and “say no” to all the other noise.
Is It a Pivot, Or is it a New Business?
Then there is this famous startup term called “Pivot” where a business takes a new direction based on market / customer feedback. Social Agent has about 3 pivots – from analytics, to big data lead generation, to a platform to connect businesses to Chinese sales agents. When is it not a pivot, and simply its a new business?
I guess that would be defined mainly as the team is the same, and the market / problem you are trying to solve is that same vision.
Friends See Your Pain, Offer Alternatives
As an entrepreneur, we will all have down days. Days where we may question why we’re doing what we’re doing. And those friends and loved ones around us don’t like to see their friends in such pain.
I have had a few offers for jobs, business opportunities, and creative alternatives to what venture I may be working on at the time, and again, this is a real challenge and test of a startup’s dedication and endurance.
Its not easy.
Entrepreneurs Usually Get Bored With Those Last Details
I think another, probably main reason, that startups stop at 80% of a startup is because that last 20% is the most difficult and defining part. As many say, an idea is easy – its all about execution. And I think as startups, a lot of the hard stuff is left to the end. Or its just pure endurance to get through all those hula hoops.
And entrepreneurs have ADD (attention deficit disorder), probably when we’re kids teachers would give us pills to calm us down. We want to do so many things, we want to change the world. Make something huge. Go big or go home.
There is just so much to do, and how can someone pick just 1 thing! But we have to do our best to “sit on our hands” and stick to that 1 venture and make it work, or move on. Don’t want to be a jack of all trades, master of none.
Never Sure When to say Has A Venture “Failed”
What is bankruptcy? What is failure? Many say there is, and many say there isn’t. I think that last 20% of a startup venture may even look like failure to some. As maybe to hit 100% market ready, it can seem like a hail mary. To really know if you’re building what the market will like.
Yes, lean startup. But still, there has to be that time when the product is being build, the production ready version, and the time beforehand. Right now, for Social Agent, we have until about early to mid August before we have fully all our web and mobile versions finished. Its been about 2 months to re-pivot to this 2 sided platform.
But what is failure? Some say when you run out of money. Others when your whole team has left the venture. Maybe, but there is always a way to continue on if you want to.
Anyway, I am going to see Social Agent through that last 20%. Lets rock, I put August 10th as the launch of our new version.