5 myths about startups and why it's not really like “Silicon Valley”
Plenty of great lawyers have aspirations to start their own business, but sadly many never fulfil that goal because, well, the start-up journey seems too hard and looks like a totally different world to what they are used to. We want to change that perception and challenge some of the myths about startups. This is our first dive into writing about starting your own gig; we're also building a community and creating resources to help aspiring entrepreneurs develop their MVP - that's Minimum Viable Product, for those of you who aren't familiar with the term. You'll soon discover the startup world has no shortage of cool acronyms.
For me, the entire concept of actioning a new idea filled me with visions of hanging out with 19-year-old IT nerds or over stylised hipsters (apologies to all of you in those categories!). To say I could never see myself in that environment after working for a leading law firm, having my own professional services business, and taking myself super seriously, is a bit of an understatement. However, the reality of the startup movement worldwide (and in Oz in particular), is that it's not actually dominated by the young, it's not just for coders, it's not just for unicorns, and doesn't require a small fortune or a penis. Sure, there are plenty of young, predominantly male, coders working on the next Uber, but there are far more seasoned professionals who have explored other options and have come to realise that they would prefer to have a crack at something new.
So here are our 5 myths about startups and why it's less “Silicon Valley” and more “Friends”. Hopefully, some of you with great ideas are inspired to action them!
5 myths about startups
1. Everyone is Young
This one is relative, but there is a perception that to get an idea off the ground you have to be like Zuckerburg or any one of the unicorn founders. The reality is that the average age of startup founders is over 32. In Sydney, within the community, we work with (Fishburners), the average age of founders is around 34. What we are seeing is a rather rapid ageing of startup founders as Generation X themselves approach middle age. It's fair to say that, as people are forced to work longer, older people are going to be actioning ideas, and we are going to continue to see even the startup and small business world age up. This is a fantastic thing for all the younger, less experienced founders who will be able to learn from those in the community with a bit more experience.
2. You have to know how to code.
This one is pretty simple - your skill set is irrelevant. Your ideas and your execution are not. It's very easy to find a co-founder with coding skills if you need that, or maybe your idea doesn't require an app or a fancy website. What is important is that you can tap into communities to find people with the skills you lack, whether that is coding, marketing, design, or any of the plethora of things you'll need help with if you don't have the skills or motivation to teach yourself. That said, I know people who have taught themselves how to build a house from YouTube videos alone, so if you want to learn anything you can usually find the resources for free, or pay $50 for a Udemy course. Learning some of these skills will take less time than you invested in “torts” or something equally useless at law school.
3. You have to have a unicorn idea.
One of the myths about startups is that your idea has to be disruptive. Having an idea that you can make money from doesn't mean it has to be the next Facebook or Airbnb. Sometimes we get so worried about the potential scope of the idea that we don't do anything about actually doing it. You might have a great business idea that you can make enough money off to give you the freedom to then do other things. Or maybe you just want to have a lifestyle business that pays the bills and allows you chill in Chang Mai (or even travel the world) for a few years. There is a considerable spectrum of success with “startups” - don't let that stop you from getting yours off the ground. It is important that you make sure you have product market fit - i.e. you're not trying to create an app that sells ice to Eskimos - but that's all part of creating an MVP and requires a bit of work that unfortunately can't all happen between your ears.
4. It's expensive.
This point is a bit controversial. It will “cost” you an enormous amount in terms of time, energy and emotions. It will generally require 150% commitment and many late nights and early mornings. It is, however, not “expensive” to get a seat in a co-working space, invest time in learning new skills, go through the process of creating an MVP, and start to action your idea. Put it another way, if you were to buy a franchise or small business and “test” whether that will work, that would involve far more initial capital. If you go into your startup full time, you're going to need enough cash to get by until the business is viable. Or you could do what countless professionals do: work weekends and make it your side-hustle until you have something worthy of throwing everything into. There's always pain and risk, but it isn't like there are huge capital requirements. Drop $500,000 into an established restaurant or fruit shop that requires you to work 100 hours a week, and then let me know if startups are expensive.
5. It's a men's club.
This is one of the key myths about startups and is one we need to crack open. There are numerous female startup founders and some of the networks and support systems available exclusively to female entrepreneurs are unrivalled. Take, for example, the Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine Facebook group founded by successful Australian entrepreneurs Jane Lu and Gen George. This group has grown to over 30,000 members, all of whom are females at various points on the start-up roller coaster. Whilst start-ups in areas such as tech are still male dominated, the stereotypes are slowly shifting as more and more females enter the space. Women launching start-ups also have access to a host of grants that are not available to male applicants, which is something that can certainly ease the financial pressure of launching a new business.
There you have it, 5 myths about startups. If you've been thinking about starting your own business, there is no better time than now. We'll soon be releasing more free and premium content to help you get started on your journey, so keep checking back.
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