S-Curves are one of the most common oversimplifications of how new businesses appear and grow. You might not know the name coined by Everett Rogers in 1962 or that it refers to sigmoid functions, but you do know how it goes.
Most of the startups participating in one of my trainings are initially shocked at the inordinate amount of time I spend working on ‘the problem’. I’m certainly not alone there. Everyone who is regularly dealing with startups gets eventually frustrated to see how they concentrate en masse on building a product and not focusing on what the market actually needs. And while anyone who ambitions to shake a market’s status quo shouldn’t be too pragmatic, as much rationality as possible should nevertheless prevail. But, very few are the startups committed from launch to tackle a clear-cut problem.
While the first wave of the digital revolution is now well over, most corporations are victims of some level of rude awakening. Surprisingly enough for me, the sovereign cure for their lack of strategic vision has been isolated: startups. As it seems, six-month-old post-internet companies without cash-flow are deemed better than multi-billion global businesses are figuring out the market. Even if you might be very lucid about this foolishness, some of your executive committee is already victim of such startup fever. Let me offer one of the many ways to deal with that issue. And then maybe, you’ll find realreasons to work with startups.
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Two weeks in Shanghai working with dozens of MBA students holding managerial and executive positions in various industries always ground me back to the basics of business. One of the most basic questioning that managers, innovators, or would-be entrepreneurs are asked is: can you explain your business? The answer is always a mess.
It’s not about product or service anymore. It never was. Since the beginning of times, every transaction has always been both a product and a service. But you might be confused because finance is still looking hard at Capex versus Opex and that’s fair. Tax people might also still lag behind and account for VAT, investment, and transfer of ownership in different ways, but why would that mean that your customers should care?
I’ll be giving another Executive MBA class this week in Paris, which is an activity that I fairly enjoy — and if I may say so, my students too. Such three-day classes are usually very educative for me. They always keep me in touch with what most professionals still find difficult to grasp in the logic of launching innovative businesses and sustaining them later on.
In 2015, I was (poorly) rapping on how early stage ventures were systematically called “startups” because pretty much everyone has vested interests in labeling them as such. We’re now in 2017 and there is always a deeply rooted misconception about what is a startup.
This is the fifth startup post-mortem that I’m reading this morning.
While startups are not failing more, they’re just more vocal about it. This is a good thing. Hopefully, it will hep dismiss the illusion that a) anyone can launch a successful startup and b) the next stage of economic growth for Western countries will come from under-staffed, ill-prepared tech entrepreneurs.