Saturday, December 16, 2006
The slow startup movement
You’ve heard of the slow foods movement? Perhaps the slow cities movement?
I’ve got an addition. The slow startup movement.
The common language of start ups these days is FAST. If you are not currently involved with the debate as an entrepreneur but would like to know more, listening in hurts.
The talk is all speed. Speed of the markets, speed of innovations, speed up new products. Kill or be killed. If you’re not in hyperdrive on this highway you’re road kill.
Here’s an idea. Don’t get on that highway if you can avoid it. Take the back roads. They’re more scenic. You’ll have time to think and to stop and talk to people. If you plan your journey right, you’ll understand many are smarter than you about things you need to learn.
Not all start ups fit this profile, but many could. I’m a 50 something boomer and it fits my demographic like a glove. Start now. Get the process in place on your schedule. Enjoy the learning curve. When you’re ready, jump in with both feet. I also think this can apply to young people, people in their middle years, single people, folks with families and seniors. I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t benefit by creating a slow start up for themselves.
Think of the benefits of slowly starting your new enterprise, if you have the time and resources available…
If you can start slow you can start small. This means no big outlays of money while you organize it. Take small bites and little risks and see where it takes you.
If you can start slow you can start smart. This means taking the time to weave a wide mix of vendors, end users, accounting professionals, sales channels and many others, into business processes that work for you and your enterprise. You can take the time to make your enterprise sustainable on your terms.
If you can start slow you can manage your risks. This start up process is fraught with risk. Starting slow teaches you how to understand which risks are valuable and which are dangerous.
I've been through a number of different kinds of startups. Some are entirely appropriate to launch through public funding channels. When speed is necessary, it can be readily provided by traditional channels. Angels, venture firms, loans, convertible debt, development organizations, banks, governments, and all of the other usual suspects are great resources and should all be used where appropriate.
But not every new venture needs those resources. Not every new enterprise is an appropriate match for those tools. You don’t have to follow that path just because that’s all anyone is talking about. If you have the time available to start slow, do it. You don’t have throw yourself or your enterprise onto the fires of the official start up channels. It’s rough out there. Speed and deadlines rule in those markets, as they should. If you’re not ready for prime time, and most seed stage ventures are not, create sustainability ahead of speed.
The slow startup is one clear path to sustainable work.
Slow startups don’t mean less work. They mean more. You’ll need to capture and measure every result. You’ll need to sift all your data from many directions to find the patterns that will take your enterprise forward. You will need to quickly learn from every mistake. You will need to get smarter every day.
As you infuse your business processes with this information, your slow start up can provide you and your enterprise increasing successes, personal and professional nourishment, and the discipline required to keep flapping your wings.
Then, when you’re ready to take flight, you can do it successfully. At the time of your choosing. Into an environment of your choosing with the tools and resources you’ve developed
When the right time comes, you won’t be talking about a start up. You’ll be talking about a take off.
Enjoy your journey, slowly.