Being seduced by Venus Flytrapeneurship is remarkably easy.
You may be affected.
If your organisation supports start-up teaching and/or micro business incubation, read on…
Venus Flytrapeneurship: What is it & how does it work?
At the heart of the matter is a central funding body, let’s call it ‘G’. ‘G’ promotes itself as a fan and supporter of entrepreneurship and start-up business.
‘G’ has tax riches to distribute. But to function successfully, ‘G’ needs to attract smaller partner organisations with whom to share its ‘wonga’.
And so the lure is set. The lure and promise of precious money.
But in exchange for money, organisations must commit and promise to use their new riches to develop peoples’ entrepreneurial skills and talent.
The goal? More start-ups. More jobs. More taxes. More grants. A better economy. Everyone’s a winner! Hallelujah! No spiky catch.
But there is a catch…
With its offer of money, ‘G’ naturally wants results. Hard results. And to ensure results, firm metrics are put in place which the organisation must strive to fulfil. ‘G’ wants to know how many people have given themselves a job and started a business. And if the newly formed business is creating employment, so much the better.
But here’s the problem… (with the catch)
So many startups rush headlong to start their business. And within little time the venture stagnates, and the founder flounders and gives up. Why does this happen? Because start-ups are impatient and fail to find a real problem to solve at the outset. So their supposed ‘great idea’ doesn’t sustain.
Here are some tell-tale signs of impatient start-up.
- Focus on a product rather than a market(s)
- Speed of transition through the early stages
- Lack of idea variation
- Lack of research interaction with potential customers
- Lack of idea validation
- Lack of willingness to pivot as information is collected
If the entrepreneurship support community and especially ‘G’ wants to really help people starting out in business, we must slow them down.
But surely it’s not all doom and gloom?
Start-ups may be failing, but let’s look on the bright side!
- ‘G’ shares its riches with plenty of partner organisations.
- Partner organisations receive money and provide support, teaching and training to lots of start-ups
- And Partner organisations meet their start-up target metrics
OK, this is a serious issue and I must not get too facetious. The fundamental goal is to ensure more start-ups start-up and succeed over the longer term. If we fail on this most important of metrics, backslapping in other areas is inappropriate.
How do we avoid Venus Flytrapeneurship & help more start-ups survive and sustain?
To avoid Venus Flytrapeneurship, the challenge is for all stakeholders to shift thinking and action in order to ensure more start-ups survive and sustain over the longer term.
First and most importantly, the ‘G’ metric that rewards actual start-up business numbers must be reviewed. The assumption someone starting their own business is always doing economic good is highly questionable.
Damp logs don’t start sustained fires. It takes time to create energy and fuel. Unseasoned entrepreneurs don’t start sustainable businesses.
‘G’ needs to take a more long-term view of its metrics. Metrics that require qualitative feedback from startups as well as quantitative date from partner organisations will show deeper investment has greater returns. Ideally, ‘G’ should be rewarding longer incubation.
If ‘G’ can shift its metric thinking, organisations will be under less pressure to get start-ups up and running. In a perfect world, start-up support organisations would be able to leverage supporting information from ‘G’ that highlights the value of patience, real problem solving and slowing down. Extra time can then be used to provide additional training that develops critical soft skills so the processes of ideation as well as customer discovery become far more valuable.
Tangible support is also needed to connect real potential customers with start-up businesses so entrepreneurs can fully test their assumptions and face and find the true problems before committing in full.
Finally, all Start-ups need to appreciate they don’t make products or services. They create solutions to problems. Before building products, services and accompanying websites, no stone should be left unturned when checking for the existence of a problem and whether anyone cares that its solved.
For more on how start-ups need to think and act in order to give themselves the very best chance of surviving and thriving, read ‘All in Startup’ by Diana Kander.
And for specifics about turning any idea into a product or service that makes money, listen to her interview in Episode 3 (Series 2) of the Startup Survival Podcast.