Every quarter, I sit through a few presentations of people who want to change the world.
A very few of them, if any, end up doing so.
Every founder is taught to start with a question – what is the problem and how can I solve it?
Some start with the question – What can I disrupt?
Disrupt. The word itself has a negative connotation. In the English language, anyone or anything causing a disruption is unwelcome. Yet, this word has become the favorite of both founders and their funders. What are you trying to disrupt? They ask. And you have to disrupt something apparently.
Why not just improve on the status quo? Or do something better in your own way? Or be another player, but carve a bit of your own space?
These kind of businesses do not get as much attention, as compared to the “disrupters”.
It is another story that most who seek to disrupt, get disrupted themselves.
And that is not because of lack of capability, but because there are only so many things that can be changed. You cannot change everything for the better – somethings are good the way they are, and so it makes sense to find your own space within it, rather than try to change everything about it.
Startups are a muddled game. 1 in a thousand get to where they are – the unicorns and the decacorns and the “oh I took a little too much money than I can handle” corns. Most are not profitable, and may not see profit until they die out. Most founders hold less than 10% of the companies that they eventually exit, and most startups die out before they can complete Version 2.0 of their product.
This is the harsh reality.
And so, there is merit in being a startup that finds middle ground, that is bootstrapped, keeps costs low, and is profitable in a reasonable amount of time, and consistently. The startup may not be valued in the hundreds of millions, it may not be in the news, hell – it may not even disrupt anything other than the founder’s finances, but one thing it may…it may be worth it.
A startup that is profitable, and consistently, can help a founder create a sound business, employ and support a few households, and can contribute a bit to the economy in it’s own small way. Pros? A little more peace of mind, more time with family, and in all probability – outliving the flashy startup that went to unicorn and then disappeared all in half a decade.
Everyone cannot be Steve Jobs. And everyone does not have to be. Find your niche, work hard, and enjoy your moments. That is what counts.
The rest will come with time. And if it doesn’t, sometimes it helps adjusting expectations rather than fighting a battle that was never meant to be won.
Think about it!