So I have a startup – I think. It is a company that is a few years old and makes a couple of mil a year. But, well, according to their own writing, Google is still a startup and so is Amazon, and they make slightly more than we do, obviously. I would really like to know when I will stop being a startup and just be a company. If it is turnover based, time or the fact that you have an HR department, then most companies, even most startups are now just regular businesses who should be categorised as such.
I wonder about this, not because I have some anxiety about what I call myself, but because in my experience the startup fixation is overrated and poorly defined, which is causing more pain than pleasure for the people trying to create companies.
When I started my company, we had a very loose idea of a business plan, no outside investment and big, starry-eyed dreams. This meant that we started small, as in 50m2, 5 people in the team small. We had immense pressure to build out a client base, we had to learn on the go, and every mistake cost us dearly. It also meant that we did not have a clear compass to guide our decisions, and there were many financial and business decisions that should have been considered and discussed that were not.
I realise now what these quick moves could have ruined the company very quickly, and that we exposed ourselves to huge potential risks which we are only lucky to have avoided. The upside is there, sure, we were, and still are, lean and can make decisions without consulting shareholders or other uninvolved stakeholders. But considering the potential downside, the upside is not worth it.
If I were to start a company again, it would be done in a very much more corporate way, with the necessary business planning, governance, financing and other long-term decisions about how the internal workings will be managed clearly defined, before the first paycheck is ever written or a client is approached.
There is nothing heroic or charming about being confused, and there is nothing worse for your reputation than not being able to fulfil a commitment. And for me, that is what a startup is – a unsecure and very risky business that is using as a euphemism to hide behind.
So if anyone wants to know, Lumico, is not a startup. We are a small to medium-sized company working hard towards becoming a medium to large company with the necessary compliance, regulation and corporate depth to stand behind what it sells and what it creates. We do not live in Silicon Valley, and we do not prescribe to bullshitting your way into boardrooms.
As they say; Tricks are for kids.
*Recently, we also had a look at the nature mentors. Head over to the post.