Single biggest problem with entrepreneurs

The single biggest problem with entrepreneurs is that they have a very tightly knitted community. Yes, you read that right: being part of a tight community around entrepreneurship (especially Internet and technology startups) could be a barrier to moving ahead towards success. This might sound bit controversial but allow me to explain.

Most likely, entrepreneurs visit discussion forums dedicated to entrepreneurship. They have entrepreneurial friends. They consume entrepreneurship gyan day and night on how to succeed, what to do and what not to do. When they have difficulty, they take advice from like minded entrepreneurs who understand them. In short, lives of entrepreneurs revolve around experiences of other entrepreneurs only.

But, my friend, entrepreneurship circle is a very tiny part of this world and probably mutually exclusive from your target customer segment. Your customers don’t frequent the blogs, you do. They don’t participate in the discussions you like talking about. Moreover, your entrepreneur friends know no better about your target market than you do. All they can do is to provide their point of view, which may or may not apply to you because there are so many variables when it comes to startups, customers and target market.

While, if done in sensible limits, participating in entrepreneur community can be very fruitful. You get to learn from other’s mistakes and successes. But, more often that not, entrepreneurship circles become echo chambers where same point of view keeps repeating again and again and takes a life of its own. And the entrepreneurship circle is so small and tightly knit, that you might mistake it as truth. Reality is that your customers are not even aware that such circles exist. How many of your potential customers might be aware and frequently visit forums such as Hacker News, Techcrunch, Mashable, Reddit or (in India) They don’t hold the same opinions that get reinforced in such circles.

So take a dose of reality and understand that these entrepreneurship communities exist for a different purpose and the advice, tips, feedback you get should be seen in the context that all people there probably think like you do, have low budget and represent a tiny fraction of this world. Don’t take all of what is said as reality. Reality is what your customers tell. Every second spent in such circles can be spent talking to your customers and finding their circles.

Do you agree with my point of view? Do entrepreneurship circles help or hurt?

PS: I understand the irony of automatically generated related posts below. But my point is that the entrepreneurship community participation should be done in right context and the advice there should be seen in proper light of where the person is coming from.


  1. Paras,

    I definitely see what you mean. I think the difficult balance is understanding the advice and input you can get from these circles (connecting you to the right resource, past similar experiences and spreading the word) versus actually basing your product on it (you need to talk to the people with the checkbooks).

    Having navigated the Boston entrepreneurial community for the past year, this sort of issue is definitely apparent; most people in the community assume that every entrepreneur knows about all the events and organizations they do. At some point, you get to know enough people that you’re “plugged in” and aware of everything, but that doesn’t help the next group of young entrepreneurs. It is because of this problem, and for the greater benefit of the whole community I launched a site, to try to allow people a easier task of removing the “aspiring” from “aspiring entrepreneur”. We’re only in beta now, but will look forward to being at least a partial solution to this type of problem.


  2. Paras,
    I agree and disagree. What I agree with is your entrepreneur group is limiting your understanding of the problem. What I disagree with is that some of your customers are also entrepreneurs you are just not talking to them.

    For example, this blog didn’t have a large Reply button. I almost gave up trying to figure out how to reply. I am an entrepreneur, but clearly not in technology. I could really use your website optimizer because it would help me increase conversions. So you should pick my brain about your product even though I am an entrepreneur.

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