I’ve been thinking and wondering a lot lately about what needs to come together to create a working company. I’m not going to touch the issue of “successful,” company because that’s really impossible to quantify (at least for me), so instead I’m just going to look at what I think is needed to make a “working” company, defined as one that is growing, can meet all of its financial obligations, and support the entrepreneurs behind it. As best as I can see it there are 4 inputs required to create a working company (all either provided or gathered by the entrepreneur):
- expertise (includes a network of contacts)
- energy / passion
I struggled with putting energy and passion in this list because I think it is more important than any of those items, and it influences them all. The odds are (and we always hear about this) the more passionate you are about what you’re working on, the more leverage you’ll have on everything else (time, money, expertise). If you’re passionate, you will find a way to get all of those ingredients together. In fact I would say that number 4 is more of the wildcard here. It can make up for a huge defiency in any of the other items or all. I guess you could call passion/energy the leverage. It helps you do more with less.
All of these are needed in some amount to get a company going. If you’re extremely strong in one area you can make up for a weakness in other areas. For example if you’re expert in building and managing sales teams, and your new business is in sales of some kind, it will likely take less time, money, and energy on your part to get things up and running. If you don’t have any money, and you don’t have any expertise in the space you are hoping to work in, then you’ll need to devote a lot more time (and I hope you have the passion to drive you through it). I added luck with a star because I think all companies need it. The problem is you can’t really plan on good luck, you can only increase your odds of getting it through time. The more time you’re able to buy yourself and your business, the more likely you’ll have some luck on your side.
I’m sure a lot of people will wonder where idea fits in all of this. I”m learning that idea in most cases is not all that important. It can really help people be excited about what they are working on, but I think mission can do more for making someone passionate. The idea itself is usually just a starting point, a place to organize resources. Rarely will the idea you start with be the one that works. They usually evolve very quickly as more time, money, and expertise are added.
I’d say in my current situation I’m capable of providing some expertise, some money, and some energy…but my best contribution is my time. Sometimes that really can be frustrating. Without expertise or money to push things forward, you just need the time to experiment (and make a lot of mistakes). When setting out to start a business, take a look at the list above. What, at the moment, are you most capable of bringing to the table? Are you OK with that? Can you really give all that is required (especially in $$ or time)?
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