While we are excited to see all the guests, founders, participants and festivities surrounding Startup Iceland 2015, it is in a week, you have bought your ticket right? I wanted to write about the difference and similarities around two words that is thrown around interchangeably: Startups and Entrepreneurship.
There is a lot of confusion around both these words. There was even a lot of discussion in AVC.com, the popular blog written by Fred Wilson. I guess the definition of what a business is depends on the glasses you wear. IMHO, every business on the first day is a Startup i.e it is an experiment trying to figure out a repeatable business model – a definition made popular by Steve Blank. I like this definition for a Startup, because it shows that there are still a number of unknowns in the journey of value creation.
Entrepreneurship is an umbrella term, it encapsulates all the skills, activities, pain, suffering, joy, happiness and the person into one word. I think of Entrepreneurship as a verb i.e action, an act of creating and doing. An Entrepreneur is someone who creates something of value from nothing because she finds a gap in the universe and fulfills that need. When an Entrepreneur is on her quest to solve this problem assembles a team, a skill absolutely needed to build a Startup… See what I did there. I just fused the words and that causes confusion. An Entrepreneur is the driving force behind a Startup. I have written before about the 2 Must have skills for an Entrepreneur, these 2 skills are what enables a Startup Founder/Entrepreneur to build a team to create the product or service, find customers, raise money if the business requires that, convince other participants in the ecosystem to bring her vision to life. I believe these skills can be learnt, but the act of extending oneself to learn usually comes from within. This is also the reason why I write quite a bit about managing your own psychology, and starting from within and working on your own self before working with others. It is a journey and it is a painful process, because it leads to change, change leads to uncertainty and uncertainty makes us uncomfortable as thousands of years of evolution has left its traces on us to fear the unknown. The fear has served us well so far, as it made us survive. I think fear is fine, but as an Entrepreneur, you cannot let fear govern you. I like the following quote from Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One:
Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.
I don’t believe every Entrepreneur needs to raise money, context is very important. I also believe every artist is an Entrepreneur, I think Jay Z got it right:
I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man! – Jay Z
Startup Founders who are building high growth -read, growing at 5% to 7% a week– companies need to think about raising money but again it is not the most important thing. The skills needed to build a high growth company is only slightly different than the skills needed to build any other business. I don’t think I can capture all the nuances of these words in one single blog post. Maybe I just need to write that book 🙂