As tech entrepreneurs, we fight tirelessly, hoping to create the next Amazon.
We strive for years to create innovative products that can be useful to people, solutions that improve their lives and the world in which we live.
Many of us persevere in that struggle. Some try unsuccessfully until ending in a situation of financial and emotional agony. Others end up renouncing to their dream before or after the ruin reaches them.
Even the less numerous who manage to achieve the desired success usually end up trapped in a life which does not make them happy.
The commitments acquired along their journey make them prisoners of their startups.
Their purpose is corrupted, and they end up causing negative consequences in themselves, society, and the world.
But why does all this happen?
Why do so many entrepreneurs end up so routinely failing?
Why do they reach such a state of ruin and frustration that they end up abandoning?
Is it all a matter of resources, talent, or luck as they say? Or are there other hidden causes?
Why many of those who achieve the desired success also fail to reach a lifestyle that makes them happy?
Why do good intentions usually end up turning into unethical behaviors and causing negative (and even catastrophic) consequences on the environment in which we live?
And most importantly, how could we get out of this situation as individuals and as a society?
The kick in the ass (or how we got out of the loop).
Interestingly, we did not ask these questions until chaining the failure of several startups, following an exhausting period of more than five years.
After alternating several projects and chain failures, we reached such a choking state that we could no longer look the other way. It was at that moment when we realized that we had fallen into a vicious cycle that we needed to leave urgently.
Our mentality until that moment: “Not moving one step backward, not even to gather momentum.”
However, at this point, we could not continue along the same path. We needed to consider other options and make some difficult decisions.
In a world that permanently pushes us to hustle, the first of them was perhaps the least obvious of all: stop. Pause to reflect and ask the right questions.
How did we get to this situation? And most importantly, how could we get out of it?
The known causes usually reported were not useful and did not seem to explain the real origin of our failure.
We needed to find answers.
The struggling moment is the seed for all innovation.Bob Moesta
The great revelation: the system trap.
The current society in general and the entrepreneurial system, in particular, hold a biased vision around entrepreneurship.
We live in an environment reigned by the pursuit of economic hyper-growth at all costs.
The messages and slogans of the startup world confuse us and move us away from our vital objectives. And the rules and mental models of our environment add even more to the confusion.
Mainly, they speak to us of an economic objective and show us a path to glory.
The routes are clear and admit little discussion. Those who question them do not enjoy high relevance. They do not usually appear in the news. They do not sell.
The industry misleads entrepreneurs into following the example of projects that raised large sums and quickly became multi-million dollar companies.
And people fall into the trap. They go all-in, chasing over-dimensioned goals.
The price is non-negotiable: maximum dedication, whatever the cost, all or nothing. So we must put all the emphasis on our project and inevitably sacrifice everything else.
Many of us get into the startup world full of excitement and good intentions.
We try to run away from some things we don’t want in our lives.
We seek more freedom to live and work on our terms.
We want to behave ethically.
We want to learn and grow.
We desire to innovate and build something unusual.
We want to have an impact and make a difference in this world.
But the point is that hyper-growth at all costs precisely plays against this idea. When it becomes the North Star, tension begins to flourish, short-term thinking starts to rule decisions, and harmful outcomes influence everything and everyone around the business. And this includes ourselves and the environment we live in.
We were no exception. We also succumbed to the claws of the system.
The re-foundation of the system.
Today, more than ever, the world faces challenges that entrepreneurship, carried out in the right way, can help overcome.
We have people who want and have the potential to contribute to creating a better world. However, we are destroying them.
There is a common interest. There is a link that unites our interests as entrepreneurs with the objectives and needs of others.
There are many problems to solve and many things to improve…why not take advantage of it? Why not paddle in the right direction? Why not do it ethically, thinking over the long term?
From our point of view, doing the right thing is not at odds with growing and being profitable.
For us, money is not an end but a means. It is a necessary means without any doubt. But our success is not measured in terms of economic growth at any price.
For Walt Disney, this was pretty clear.
We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.Walt Disney
What we are looking for is not to grow a lot and arrive fast, especially if it means restricting our freedom, ending our dreams, and getting away from whom we want to be.
Nor if that means getting things worse in the long term for us and others either.
We don’t care only about the end, but also about the how.
However, we operate in a system deviated from these objectives. A system that is broken, and that corrupts the talent and good intentions of many entrepreneurs.
We believe that starting and running a business in an honest, ethical, and sustainable way is not only possible but necessary.
Ask the right question.
Currently, you might be in any of the following situations, struggling to make progress in your life:
- You might be considering undertaking a startup project, whether or not this is your first entrepreneurial adventure,
- Maybe you already did it, and now you are struggling, trying to move your project forward,
- Perhaps your startup failed, and you are considering to give up and return to your life —or you already did it,
- Or, you might have already succeeded, and still, you are trying to grow your company further.
In that case, whatever your situation might be, you could be doing what you are doing because you believe that’s the best option for you.
However, it is probably not.
You will have read all kinds of content so far. Some of them intend to help you answer questions such as:
- How can I turn my idea into a business?
- How can I start?
- What steps should I follow?
- Which resources do I need?
- How can I finance my project?
- What are the market trends?
Other books or publications will help you answer more profound questions like:
- Will people want your product?
- Will they be willing to pay for it?
- Will it be scalable?
And they will show you methods of experimentation and validation of your idea before draining your resources while building a product nobody wants.
All these questions are essential, and we will also address here many of them.
However, we believe you should start with a more fundamental question. That question is why. Why do you want to found a business? Or if you already did it, why did you do it in the first place?
Because once you are in a position to answer this question, you will be more prepared to choose the right path. You will be in a more reliable place to reject the dead ends where the established routes take us and make the best decision for you and your environment.
You should know many people went through the same situation in which you find yourself now.
But few asked the right questions.
This site is for you if…
- You have plenty of good intentions.
- You are trying to run away from some things you don’t want in your life.
- You seek more freedom to live and work on your terms.
- You want to act ethically.
- You want to learn and grow.
- You desire to innovate and build something unusual, something that represents you, something that moves you.
- You want to have an impact, improve things, and make a difference in this world.
- And you don’t look for economic growth at any cost.
We need to make entrepreneurship an honest, ethical, and sustainable instrument, oriented to the well-being of founders like you and the environment in which we live.
This article is the beginning of a journey aimed at exploring, understanding, and disseminating the mechanisms that can make it possible.
Are you coming with us?
This article was originally published at https://freegrowth.co on February 8, 2020.