There is a new blog that was started by an analyst named Mazen at First Round Capital. In one of his first blog posts, he writes about the “most common mistake that entrepreneurs make.” His bottom line: the most common mistake entrepreneurs make is wanting to start a company rather than wanting to solve a problem.
Well Mazen, you got me. Yep, I wanted to start a company. That’s why I went through many, many ideas and spent weeks on end brainstorming, observing, researching and testing potential ideas. And when I started Punchbowl Software, I didn’t have it all worked out. I knew that there was a seed of a good idea, but it took me a very long time to clearly articulate the problem that MyPunchbowl.com solves. I realized later that it was a problem that many people had, but it didn’t start there.
The problem with Mazen’s logic is that I believe the kind of entrepreneurs who want to start a company are the kind of people who are hungry to solve problems. The real litmus test is whether they’ve uncovered a real problem or whether it’s a square peg in a round hole.
I’ve listened to countless stories from CEO’s who had the desire to start a company AND the passion to go seek, observe, and research lots of markets to find a problem to solve. To me, these are the kinds of entrepreneurs that I’d want to invest in.
If you have the passion, hunger, drive and motivation to start a company, don’t take Mazen’s advice. Go for it. Search. Investigate. Research. Test. And when you think you’ve uncovered something, give it a real litmus test. If it fails, go back to the search. There are so many problems to solve in this world. If you want to start a company, that’s a fine place to start.