Through 2012, you may well have seen a fair number of examples of UK entrepreneurs ably demonstrating two key skills they apparently have in abundance:-
- Moaning how US startups are plainly in a vast unsustainable funding bubble (but can we have some of that here, please?)
- Moaning how UK startups are plainly in a vast unsustainable non-funding lull (and why-oh-why can’t the government fix it?)
Yet as we move into 2013, both of these are ringing quite hollow. Unless you’re trying to get a refund on an unflattering top from a department store, moaning does not give you any kind of competitive advantage. Moreover, moaning about something that isn’t actually a problem is just pathetic.
For example, the real reason US startups are in a funding bubble is because (a) an unbelievable number of startups try to start up every year in the US, (b) US entrepreneurs are actually quite good at getting startups going, and (c) they genuinely try to create A+ startups with a real possibility of scale, for which ambitious VC-class investment is a sensible path. Contrastall that with UK startups’ business plans, most of which seem to be based around C-grade social media hacks. Somewhat unpopularly, I would argue that it is UK entrepreneurs’ collective lack of ambition and vision that has made an effective seed-level VC sector pretty much untenable in the UK.
If you want to change this whole game, aim higher, go bigger, and astound the world.
But it is the non-funding lull moaning that makes me even more annoyed. Too many entrepreneurs assume that their only possible way to make a workable company is via a financial leg-up from someone else’s money. Yet the entire business landscape has changed: have they not noticed eBay, Amazon Marketplace, and a hundred other diverse routes to market that have opened up in every crack?
In fact, I would go so far as to say that a 2013 business plan that specifically relies on someone else’s money to make things happen is nothing short of dead in the water. Rather, a workable 2013 business plan says:
- Here’s how my company is making money right now in niche sector A
- Here’s the size of the much, much larger market B it can address if you come on board with £300K
- Let’s get to it…
The most damaging thing about seeking funding is when it absorbs so much of your time and effort that it ends up costing you your company. So don’t do that: the sexiest thing you can put on a whiteboard is ongoing sales. Prove that you can both sell and deliver, and people will want in, big-time. Make that your goal in 2013, OK?