Don’t Get Over Your Skis
Don’t Get Over Your Skis is such a great saying. For anyone who skis, you get it. When you get over your skis, you fall. Sometimes you can catch yourself, or it can be a small fall or a full-on wipeout. For whatever reason, I am loving the ski analogies these days.
The start-up world is shifting. I have felt it for the last couple of years. There are still great opportunities out there for game-changing companies in old and new sectors but the innovation is in a different phase than a decade ago. There are consumer companies that are being started by people who really understand how to build a direct to consumer brand because there is history. Media companies are popping up with different models but it is about the content and the community vs going from paper to digital. Creating better-applied technologies for enterprise businesses and that includes Government agencies will just make these businesses hum better.
One thing that rings true is that the cost to start a company is still relatively low compared to the past and getting to profitability can happen faster and is expected to be quicker from many institutional investors. As we are seeing many of the companies from the past decade start to really mature and be significant players in a space, the effort to grow as quickly is starting to subside. Everyone is more aware of how damn long it takes a business to grow.
The importance of not getting over your skis too quickly is the key to building a business at a thoughtful pace. Too many times I see founders with ridiculously aggressive growth expectations. That includes big-picture ideas that are years out not weeks out. The most successful companies are thinking about the game plan step by step not leap by leap. Lock down the first thing before you think or start putting into the place the third. You end up spending a lot of cash and trying to shove a square into a hole when if you wait a while, the square will reveal itself as ready to push through. All successful foundations are built brick by brick. Otherwise, like skiing, you will find yourself wiping out.