Over the past year I have been the founder of Problemio which creates mobile apps to help people plan and start their businesses. Due to the products being mobile, young entrepreneurs make up most of the user base. Since one of the features on the app is chat-based help, I have gotten to know many of the entrepreneurs who are using my apps, and while I do my best to help them, the entire experience has actually taught me much more. In this article I am going to share some of the lessons I have learned from interacting with the entrepreneurs on my apps.
1) Tech businesses are few compared to locally-focused businesses
Since I am part of the tech community, when I first made my apps, I thought that most of my users would be people who wanted to create new start-up companies centered around new website or mobile app ideas. Instead, I quickly realized that the tech scene is only strong in the few major technology centers of the world, but every city in the world needs local service companies such as people who fix homes, dentists, lawn care services, restaurants, and many other businesses which have a local focus. Those companies make up the bulk of the businesses young people look to start.
2) Extremely high quit rate for idea-level projects
The common problem with non-technology businesses is that they typically require money to start because they tend to need to pay for equipment, office space, employees, inventory, and other similar expenses.
Once people realize the costs involved, and the limited opportunities there are for them to raise that money, they tend to give up, causing the abandonment of idea-stage companies to be extremely high.
3) Most entrepreneurs are private about their business, but when they get help, they love it
A very common phenomenon most entrepreneurs exhibit is the unwillingness to seek help. In fact, most of the businesses planned on my apps are private and I never get to see or interact with those entrepreneurs. It surprises me because why not get extra help or opinions if you can get it?
Even the people who do seek help, are often reluctant. But the minority of the people who are open to getting help, are helped quite a bit, especially if they are first time entrepreneurs. The reality is that first-time entrepreneurs make an abundant number of mistakes, miscalculations and oversights. They tend to be very excited and confident which often creates blind spots in how they view the project. And just a little bit of savvy advice can save them thousands of dollars and months of time in mistakes that are avoided.
Psychology of the entrepreneur plays a very important role in the day-to-day and long-term operations of the business. In addition to the trust issues which often cause entrepreneurs to be cautious when sharing details about their project, stress and various pressures can often force hurried and incorrect actions and decisions. Additionally, the more time people spend in a leadership position, the more it boosts their ego. After a while entrepreneurs tend to grow an ego which is dangerous if not curbed.
And lastly, founding a company can be a lonely experience. Often, that loneliness is compounded by rejection or failure when things don’t go exactly as planned.
Getting a handle on these psychological facets of starting a business can go quite a long way in helping the entrepreneurs. Much more on this topic can be found in a fuller article about business and entrepreneurship psychology.
5) Young people want to give back
Being intrinsically motivated is a very big part of sticking with the idea and seeing it through. What I observe in many of the entrepreneurs who I interact with on the apps, especially young entrepreneurs, is that they are motivated largely by giving back. Many of the people have ideas for helping either their local communities, or to help parts of the world that need various resources.
Alex Genadinik is a mobile developer and the founder of Problemio business apps which is the company behind a number of mobile apps for planning and starting a business. The goal of the apps is to help guide first-time entrepreneurs from the idea stage to having an operational business. Alex also blogs at http://www.glowingstart.com on various topics having to do with starting a business and creating products. Alex holds a B.S in Computer Science from San Jose State University. Please say hello on Twitter @genadinik