Growing up to be an imaginary animal. The startup problem!

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There seems to be a general idea behind starting a new business these days. Entrepreneurs young and old, though specially the former, start their companies to be multi-billion dollar organizations, or they don’t even hit the ground. They look into the future and see themselves as a mythical figure surrounded by a white aura; they see themselves as Unicorns! Yet, they are only humans. But being a Human, a real creature, is what allows us to do grand things!

The problem of wanting to be too big before knowing how to just “be” is dangerous when one does not admit to having to go through a very steep learning curve. Aiming to be a mythical figure can lead to a tragic turn of faith, as the vast majority tends to end up like Icarus instead, just because they wanted to fly too high without the proper tools.

As I personally see it, this is a situation fueled by different parties.

Public Sector: Over the last years the public sector has pushed for entrepreneurship in a last resort attempt to get unemployment under control. “You can be your own boss” , “It has never been easier to open your own company”. This push, though in the right direction, is void of any substance as people are expected to adapt to a new reality even though they are given the old tools by the educational system.

Acceleration programs cannot equip an entrepreneur in 3 or 6 months. Under the old model (though still running) one is expected to hold a Master’s degree to dream of accessing a repetitive job in a big corporation, but now everyone seems to think that there is no preparation required to launch a project which will need to deliver a product and, eventually, morph into a legal and profitable organization.

The public sector must address this problem by pushing for full blown education reforms touching each and every level, starting as early as youngsters get in a “class room” which, by the way, does not need to be a classical room with 20 desks and chairs …nor a room at all.

The Private Sector: Big companies should focus in having a more meaningful impact in society and one valid way to do so can easily be through education programs, which in their turn could eventually help Corporations manage their HR requirements on the long term.

Still, the mega HR structures have been reducing, mostly after the last crash. Big corporations have found that innovation tends to be from outside, smaller players, that can later be acquired. Taken to an extreme, big corporations stop having well paid R&D positions because they count on the “low paid” R&D done and tested by Startups. Intelligent move for corporations but with a serious impact in the job market.

Finally, and in the relentless search for cost reduction, automation is taking over. Companies are making big bets in it and , in certain cases, “inviting” inviting workers to leave giving them some sort of extra support should the person decide to venture in the SMEs world.

Solution

Mind-set: We need to prepare people for the new social and economic organization. This is a fantastic new World ahead. Certainly packed with challenges great and small, but still a new World with many new opportunities to explore. We need to give new tools to be used on a planet packed with machines. Schools and universities need to stop preparing people to do what all different robots are destined to do or doing already (eg; certain legal work, new media marketing, etc).

We must push for greater use of creativity and development of, unfortunately long lost, social skills. Better social skills lead to civilized discussions which in turn improve the probability of human development and thus way improving the quality of life as well, one hopes at least. Exploring such path is the fantastic work of the entrepreneur.

As well, we have to stop shouting out loud that everyone can be an entrepreneur. That is a real as anyone being able to be an astronaut. Lets allow people to make decisions based on real facts. Self criticism is very difficult so lets not make it harder by maintaining people in a bubble. Sometimes, before being a leader it is important to be part of a structure that one does not control.

Education: Rooms crammed with children being taught the exact same thing in the exact same way has been failing. We expect society to embrace innovation and change when the building block of it, education, has remained stagnant for centuries (if not millennia).

The internet in itself and some of its tools, to the likings of AR and VR, will be the base of this soon to arrive spectacular transformation. So far, the internet, has been working as a repository of information but we are missing the platforms and correct channels to make the higher quality information available with great UX. The technology is out there; the content, on its way. This said, one cant sit and wait. Lets all push for it.

Policy: There should not be only one model, as presently. The educational system must be as nimble as the human being. Pre-school, high-school, University + Masters. 18 years of schooling, sometimes for people to go and work on something not related to the University studies (which are mostly demanded by employers).

There should be annual general skills assessments per age groups to assure a base that could eventually be: local language, mathematics – as a 2nd language – (reference to Harbour.Space) and then broadening multi-disciplinary knowledge by focusing in a theme of interest and going deep on it. Finland is already doing something very similar.

Our Responsibility: Make books available both at home and at work. Implement the 2 or 4 hour reading block on weekends at home. Read the big old classics. If people would have read 1984, Fahrenheit 451 or The Great Gatsby (this one goes for some VCs as well) we would see a lot more respect for people, for real knowledge (not internet snippets of economic theories and what not) and for money.

Be consequent. Complaining with no action does not solve problems. Stop complaining as there is almost always an alternative route to the target. If there is no alternative, there is no point in complaining. Move on.

Living with our feet in the ground. Nobody else can do it for us. Every now and again we have to look at the path we have been on an adapt. If you are on autopilot you might end up in a road that does not exist anymore.

Conclusion

Taking all this in consideration, and in little more than 2 lines; I hope that the educational system radically changes but in the meantime entrepreneurs must realize they can become great without growing-up to be an imaginary animal.

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