I’ve never read the original writings of Heraclitus, nor do I plan on doing so. Nonetheless, I agree with his 2,500 year old statement that change is the only constant in life. Had the venerable, Greek philosopher been around today, he might add that change is omnipresent in startups.
The “startup world” I first encountered at Keurig is nothing like what exists today. As recently as a few years ago, for instance, it was relatively easy for pre-revenue startups to attract significant angel funding. Now, few investors are willing to risk their money on the basis of an idea, even a patented one. They demand that products or services be (market) proven. Entrepreneurs must now self fund, or find close friends willing to finance their proof-of-concept efforts.
Other changes are equally dramatic. Online Saas and networking sites offer everything startup from soup-to-nuts: Business plans, investor contacts, loan documentation, financial models, mentors, prototypes, websites and so on. Local contests, trade shows, hackcelerators, bootcamps and daily coffee gatherings are no longer just Boston, New York or San Francisco based. In fact, they are no longer necessarily urban events; they can be found most anywhere.
I couldn’t be more pleased with this evolution.
The challenge is one of keeping abreast of these changes. Entrepreneurs must stay up-to-date but so, too, must their mentors, startup coaches and advisors. Advice based on decade-old experiences is of little value today. Seems obvious, but hardly a day goes by without an article quoting some noted Billionaire’s guidance on how to start a company. Since one rarely becomes so rich overnight, such nuggets of wisdom are almost always dated and should be read with some skepticism.
Take care also to ignore certain changes. Such as those impacting the language itself. According to “The Economist’s” April 28, 2017 article entitled, The Ban on Split Infinitives Is an Idea that Never Came, it is now acceptable to split infinitives. Yes, your mission statement is now free “to boldly go” where no one has gone before. You have permission to conservatively project your sales results and to aggressively use digital marketing strategies to achieve them. Of course, should you do so, don’t be surprised if potential investors, many of whom grew up in more grammatically demanding times, decide to summarily reject your pitch.