Startups can bring new ideas to market. They can give people a chance to change the world on their own terms. They can create something where nothing existed before. There is no doubt that they are exciting things to be a part of.
But, as much as the tech world tries to treat them as special, we don’t believe startups are special. They aren’t born out of big bang moments where the laws that govern other businesses don’t apply.
From the moment they go live, startups are as real as any other business. They are governed by the same set of market forces and economic precepts that wrap around every other company, new or old.
At the atomic level, all businesses need to generate revenue to pay their bills, grow their business, and stay in business. The sooner they find themselves in the black, the better chance they’ll have to survive. Call it a business survival instinct — businesses have to feed themselves or they’ll die.
Suggesting startups — specifically tech startups — don’t need to look for revenue opportunities now is akin to spoiling a child and shielding them from the outside world: They’re far less prepared when they eventually have to leave the house for the first time.
A poorly run startup is a poorly run business. A wonderfully run startup is a wonderfully run business. I don’t believe there are many great startups that are bad businesses. Maybe less than 1%. If the business is bad the startup is bad. A great idea, maybe, but a great business, no.
So if you start something up, start a business, don’t start a startup.