Startups: Then and Now

Whether you’ve been laid off due to downsizing or are just in search of a change after dealing with the same things every day for too many years, knowing what your skills and aptitudes are can help you determine what your ideal working environment is moving forward. It’s entirely possible that you may not find the so-called “perfect fit” in a box built by someone else. That being the case, maybe you should consider starting your own company!

Startups are not the corporate joke they used to be because of little companies like Google and Facebook. Before you start planning your campaign for the nearest yacht club, you should follow a few steps to work out where you’re most likely to succeed.

Business statup launch

Know Thyself

If you’ve ever taken a career aptitude test and gotten a supposedly “ideal” result that made you blink, such as accountant when you were sure you’d get writer or professional athlete when you haven’t voluntarily held a ball in your hands for twenty years, you were probably taking the wrong test. Hint: Those quizzes your friends are forever posting on Facebook are excellent examples of this. Consulting a horoscope, Tarot cards or a free online personality quiz to try to decide may be entertaining, but it’s not going to get you very far in finding the perfect job or figuring out how to launch a startup.

However, tests with solid scientific research and experience behind them such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI, and Strong Interest Inventory, or SII, are good places to start to decide where your current interests lie and what careers might make good matches for your aptitudes, skills and passions. If you’re thinking, “But I took those five/10/20 years ago and they said-,” remember you’re not the same person you were then. You’ve got that amount of real-world life experience behind you now, so you’ve probably learned some things about yourself since the last time you took those tests that weren’t in play back then.

Know The Market

Now you know what you’re good at and would enjoy doing, the next step is to find out how much of a market exists for services you can provide. To do this, you should research your competition. If the market is too small or too exclusive, you might have a hard time carving out a niche. At the same time, a market that is saturated with monolithic companies and a seemingly infinite number of spin-off imitators is probably a bad bet. However, you can adapt existing skills to fill a niche that is underserved or not sufficiently represented. Picture a marketplace where your primary skill is making three-pronged plugs. Everyone else is selling three-pronged plugs, but your home mostly has two-pronged outlets. By adapting your skills, you can fill a needed niche and provide something your competitors are overlooking.

Entrepreneur working on his startup

Know What You’re Getting Into

Building a startup isn’t easy. You have to be sure of the viability of the market for the service you’re providing, your ability to stay the course and fight through the inevitable slack times and be aware of what your competitors are doing. No matter how innovative your product or service might be, if someone else out there is doing it just a little better, you should be aware of it right from the start.

Depending on who you talk to and how you define the term, between 30 and 95% of startups fail. For purposes of this article, we will adopt the definition that the company crashes altogether and any investors lose their shirts on the deal. The annual average varies between 30-40% on this kind of failure. According to Inc. Magazine, out of 101 failed startups they analyzed, 42% failed for lack of a robust market for what the company provided, running out of funds accounted for another 29% and the wrong team at the helm 23%. Identifying a possible market is very well and good, but without appropriate funding or a clear vision for how to adapt to shifting market needs, you might be setting yourself up to fail.

Of course, launching your own startup need not be all gloom and doom. Startups have acquired a deserved reputation for being more innovative and progressive than their buttoned-down corporate cousins, and the market for them is more favorable than ever. More importantly, you’ll be happier and simultaneously better equipped to step into areas that are ripe for expansion while giving yourself a more stable base from which to build. You may wind up building the next multi-billion-dollar startup from talents you always dismissed as hobbies, but the surest way to fail is not to try. If you’re making a change anyway, why not make a change where you can be the boss from day one?