Saturday, February 4, 2012

What Should Your Focus Be?

Thursday was a busy night.  First I had dinner with a seasoned entrepreneur.  She told me founders don't think enough about exit strategy.

Right from there I went to an event where another seasoned entrepreneur was giving a talk.  He advises not thinking too much about exit strategy. 

After he spoke, I met another guy, who went through a startup accelerator program, wherein one meets with dozens of such mentors.  So often does one get conflicting advice in this world, he said they have a name for it: mentor whiplash.

So at the end of the day, you just have to use your own judgment.  In this case, I've decided not to think too much about exit strategy.  Basically, when people talk about startup exit strategy, they're talking about selling their company - figuring out which bigger companies might want to buy it, at what point it would be most attractive to those companies, what it will cost the founder to get to that point, and how to position the startup to the founders' best advantage.

In my opinion and experience, thinking this way early on can be a trap.  The problem is you start designing the product for the potential acquirer instead of for the user.  It's a huge risk in any case, but if you stop focusing on the user, you're going to have an unusable product.  What's worse is that a hundred other entrepreneurs are probably looking at that same opportunity, so you're going to have an unusable product in a particularly competitive space.  You won't be able to sell the product or the company.

All Thursday night, I was remembering agent and editor blog posts along these very same lines.  Don't write YA paranormal romance because that's what your favorite agent likes, or steampunk because some editor said they're looking for it...  if it's not your passion, you either won't finish or by the time you do finish, it will end up looking like the same formulaic coattail-chaser as a million other entries, and the moment will have passed anyway.  Instead of writing a specific kind of book, write whatever kind of book you can make great.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely. Writing what you love is the only way to ensure it will actually be good.