California, 19th July 2008
DO: Aim for the stars
Rather then write about a specific large company this time, let’s throw a glance at the comparisons and differences between large corporates and start-up businesses. However hard large corporate-people shout that they are entrepreneurs, I beg to differ. I think that real entrepreneurs are eventually those that leave these companies to be managed by large-corporate people rather then the other way round…
I used to work for Bloomberg, but in the very early days when they just opened an office in London. So everything we did then, was entrepreneurial. And although I didn’t stay for very long – that wasn’t that surprising either. It needed people like me in the early days, but it needed people who were everything I was not at a later stage in the company. I enjoyed my early time there very much – there was a spirit that bound the team together which said "We can do this, we can beat the well-established companies like Reuters and Telerate (now part of Thomson)". These days, everyone that starts in that industry wants to beat Bloomberg and one day some bright-spark entrepreneur will stand up and do just that.
Don’t forget that one day your own company may be that big company that everyone aims to beat. Isn’t that what a large % of entrepreneurs do aim for? Entrepreneurs are not the most tenderhearted of people, our ambitons are very clear – we want to be the best in what we do. And that means that you should aim high – and even if you don’t quite get there – you will get a darn sight further then if you never aimed for the stars. I have advocated before to think like a big company – since I really do believe that you can’t ever get to be big, if you think only of growing by a small % each year, or getting to the 5th employee. So entrepreneurship is needed, even in starting a big company – and it is those that dare risk it that are the ones that will get things off the ground and lay the foundations of the future Fortune-1000 corporations. But ofcourse, there comes a time when the entrepreneurship in its raw form has to morph into a more professional organisation.
Look at E.Factor itself – we started with three entrepreneurs, each with about 6 titles "head of technology", "head of marketing" "Webmaster" were some of mine. But now we have gotten to the stage where the three of us is not enough – we need to get to that next level and we have brought in a Content Manager, someone to do our online marketing, a great partner in the US, an expert on website flow and SEO (yes, I know what you are thinking….we have just started and will soon be launching a redesign, promise!) and so on. That is also entrepreneurship – knowing when (and what!) to let go off and have someone else handle it. And slowly we will morph into a more established organisation and hire more people and bring in more expertise that we find we need to get to the next level and the next and the next….and before you know it, we will be the company to beat.
Do I mind? No, not at all – because the wild ambitions and ideas we had will have turned into a great company. Will I be part of it? I somehow suspect that the then management team will ask me to leave, exasperated by my wild ideas and ambitions…. such is the lifecycle of an entrpreneur, but by then, I am sure something else will grab our attention and require that urgent, all-encompassing passion we love so much.