There is no doubt that starting a new business and leading it to growth and financial success is not an easy task to accomplish. The well-known statistic that one in three new businesses will fail is one that’s not based on hyperbole, but in a real way reflects the challenges and difficulties associated with successfully building a new business from the ground up.
The kinds of difficulties startups have to face are numerous and multi-faceted, whether it’s the challenge related to finding early-stage financing, the difficulties associated with building a team, or the struggle to make sure that the startup team(s) works harmoniously toward a common goal (one that can often quickly change). But, one difficulty that does not receive quite as much coverage relates to the culture and mindset of the surrounding entrepreneurial community. Startup communities and their trends and strategies quickly change. That’s part of the nature of entrepreneurism. But unfortunately, some startup trends - some zeitgeists if you will - are more successful and more amenable to new business success than others.
Consider the current penchant that has arguably influenced the focus of many entrepreneurs in the past five years or so. Essentially ever since mobile apps have enjoyed their rapid rise in popularity, it can be argued that a good portion of recent entrepreneurs have decided to begin new businesses with a focus not centered around developing a strong, stable new company, but rather in creating the next wonder app. In short, the mindset of many young entrepreneurs has shifted from a team or company-focused one to a product-focused one. This is not a good thing.
Entrepreneurs who begin new businesses with the attachment to the idea of creating the next Angry Birds or what have you, are not creating sustainable new businesses. Their concentration is not set on establishing the building blocks for a mature company; building blocks like creating a strong, vibrant company culture or building a dynamic team that can accept change and quickly adapt. Of course, there always are exceptions, but in the majority of instances, app-focused entrepreneurs are product-focused, not company-focused.
This is why it’s all the more refreshing to hear some of the thoughts of long-time Canadian entrepreneur, Cameron Chell in a new e-book that he and co-writer, Jamie Clarke recently published entitled The Sustainable Startup. Cameron Chell is a serial entrepreneur with more than twenty years of experience in founding and working with high-tech startups. Most recently, he founded and is CEO of Calgary’s Business Instincts Group, which is a venture creation firm and which has been responsible for the formation of a number of recent startups, including UrTheCast, a company that has installed HD video cameras on the international space station.
That’s all to say that not only is Chell familiar with what it takes for a new business to succeed, he’s also familiar with why a company-centered or team-centered approach is so important. He and Clarke explain the importance of this approach in The Sustainable Startup in a number of easily digestible principles. For example, The Sustainable Startup’s Principle #3 is one in which Chell and Clarke emphasize that it takes a team – and an organized and harmonious one – to create a successful startup. Principle #3 also makes an effort to communicate that the original or inspirational idea for the creation of a given startup is not as important as, once again, having a team that can execute the idea.
Most of The Sustainable Startup’s other principles repeatedly return to emphasizing that creating a well-functioning team should be of paramount importance for any entrepreneur. Indeed, in the current entrepreneurial mindset of who can build the next greatest app, The Sustainable Startup delivers a much-needed grounding of what’s truly needed to be a successful entrepreneur.