Startups are overdosing on ambition these days
Everything has to be a billion dollar idea that changes the world or it isn’t worth doing.
These days, even a billion doesn’t seem to be enough:
I’ve probably sat in on eight unicorn presentations [recently], and five of them use the word ‘trillion.’ Now I don’t think I had heard the word trillion in an investor presentation before that day.“
But we have done something in the ecosystem to encourage this type of outlandish promotion — where you feel like you need to use words like trillion.
Reality is, that for every thoughtfully articulated and executed world domination master plan, most of the biggest and impactful companies started out with much more humble ambitions. Some just wanted to give students an alternative to a summer job. Others just wanted make their friends feel like pimps.
Most wouldn’t have cleared the hurdle of the billion dollar idea.
The father of a good friend of mine lost his job a few years ago. With no short term hope of employment, the family rallied to see if they could start an online business together that might make a couple thousand dollars a month. They weren’t looking to start an empire, just something small that would supplement some of dad’s lost income.
Over the years I’ve watch as that little company has grown from a couple thousand dollars a month to a couple million dollars a month. Next year, that unfunded family run business will do over $100M in revenue.
Not every billion dollar business starts with a billion dollar idea. Not everything unfundable by VCs is unworthy of doing.
Starting something in the hopes of making an extra $1,000 a month is every bit as worthy as trying to colonize Mars. Start small and give your ambitions room to grow.
You may be surprised with how little ambition it really takes to eventually change the world.
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