Monday, September 03, 2007
Barbarians at the gate
Is this a bad time to start your own enterprise?
Are there things that could go wrong? Did you see the stock market last month? What if there's a recession, or interest rates wig out, or what if consumer confidence drops, or what if...?
My daughter and I went to a film festival debate/seminar a couple years ago that included Philip Gourevitch, one of my favorite writers (The New Yorker) and now Editor of The Paris Review. Mr. Gourevitch's writing about Africa is especially worth searching out.
Someone asked him about his fear of going forward given the chaos of the world.
He responded in a very unexpected and creative way, I thought. He said this:
"Barbarians have always been at the gate.
Barbarians will always be at the gate.
You just need to do what you do."
Both of my grandfathers started their own businesses. My Dad started his own business and my Mom worked for tech startups before that word was remotely fashionable. Computers in refrigerators stuff.
They all did it in times of significant chaos. My last start up (a manufacturing company) was launched right into the teeth the largest downturn in manufacturing since the Great Depression.
Times are always chaotic, for ever and ever, amen.
People have been creating new enterprises in times of apparent disorder and danger for millennia.
Guess what? Remember the opening question, 'Is this a bad time to risk starting your own enterprise?' The answer is, thankfully, yes.
If times are bad, then you have ready access to the key raw material for all startups… problems. If you can provide a real solution to a real problem, opportunity is limitless.
In a global economy this big, and this integrated (and this is just the start of the start of global integration), you can plug your new enterprise in easier than has ever been possible in the history of the world.
Your enterprise can be for-profit, non-profit, social entrepreneurship, screaming-cool high tech sprint, or a beautiful, slow-mo boomer launch. I don't care. If you want to create an enterprise to support yourself and build some sustainability into your life, the time is now.
This era will be looked back on as the renaissance age of entrepreneurship, and it's just beginning.
You need to refine your contribution to the industry, or the markets you know best and where you have the authority and the skills to compete.
Then you need to put one foot in front of the other no matter the seeming dangers.
Are there barbarians at the gate? I don’t care what neighborhood you live in anywhere on the globe, the answer has been, is, and always will be, yes.
Can you create some measure of control over the outcome? Yes.
Is this a bad time to start an enterprise?
Only if you don’t try.
Wiki Philip Gourevitch
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, Mr. Gourevitch's great book on the Rwanda genocide.