It’s no longer a given that the talented students from across disciplines – especially business – end up working in corporate world or government institutions. The generation stepping into the work force today often demand a profoundly different level of impact, responsibility and flexibility not possible to attain in many traditional enterprises. This evolution has sparked a massive interest in working for a startup, where nothing is certain but everything is possible.
Yet something not often discussed, is that the skills required to succeed in a startup are different to the ones you embrace in the corporate ladder. Certainly, the core principals such as providing value and helping others will work regardless of the environment, but I believe there are five distinguishable traits that you need to fly in a startup environment. If you do not possess these, you might find that the entrepreneurial environment isn’t for you – at least in it’s early stages.
More and more people find themselves thinking about creating up a side business while studying or working. Inspired by stories of billion dollar Instragram exits, the 4 Hour Work Week, or peers they set out and tip their toe into the pool of entrepreneurship. Most of the worlds greatest startup success stories have started this way – coding late evenings after a full day at work. This allows you to validate the crazy ideas before jumping ship full swing. I believe this kind of part-time entrepreneurship, where is aim is test for scalability and market fit, is healthy and often a necessary step to avoid disasters.
However, there exists another kind of part-time entrepreneurship, where your startup becomes a hobby instead of a business. You don’t necessarily always plan to create a hobby-startup. Yet it’s easy to fall prey in a situation where other priorities seem to take over, time is limited and the you’re not extremely passionate about your own idea. Alternatively, you’re looking for a quick buck with minimum work, trying to create a ‘muse’, passive income cashflow that doesn’t require too much commitment.
How can we recognise the hobby-entrepreneurs? First of all, they don’t plan to ever work full-time for their own startup. Even in a best case scenario where market fit is found, they’ll hire a manager from outside to handle the growth. Secondly, they’ll avoid accountability. In order to preserve their “freedom” they’ll resist taking mentors or investors, who might push them to prioritize the startup over other things. In addition, these founders will often end up funding their new-found hobby with their salaries for a long period of time, instead of the typical “scale fast, fail fast” mentality. Finally, hobby entrepreneurs are often not driven by an intrinsic desire to solve a problem of their own. While there’s nothing inherently wrong about solving the problems of other’s, you’ll find it hard to ever fully understand your customers without being one of them.
There are several dangers in hobby-entrepreneurship that will prevent you from achieving success if you’re not aware of them. Let’s lay them out in the open: