One of the reason the Swiss market is so challenging for startups is that it is way too kind. The social system is extremely developed, cutting the need to take risks to survive. Government support will sometimes keep weaker ideas afloat artificially. When the market ends up rejecting them three to four years down the road, precious resources have been used. Survival of the fittest – but flawed.
When I work with young entrepreneurs, I find encouraging them as important as discouraging those who won’t have what it takes to succeed. Of course knowing that for sure is impossible, and I need to rely on my guts which can sometimes be wrong. But I believe that the earlier you know you can’t live with the world’s weight on your shoulders, 70h work weeks, and the wage of a teen babysitter, really the earlier the better.
In the article below about the Founders Institute [disclaimer: I am a mentor for the Swiss chapter], emphasize is put on the fact that the program helps some people come to grip with the idea they might not be made for entrepreneurship, and Evernote CEO Phil Libin shares the question he asks to spot the true entrepreneurs:
As much as the Founder Institute aims to expand entrepreneurial opportunities, it also helps some people come to grips with the idea that they may not be in the right position to run a high-growth start-up.
Ben Cox, 35, a software engineer in Santa Cruz, Calif., left the Silicon Valley program in June after just one week. “Looking at the financial requirements of incorporating my company and bringing in a team and advisers, I just realized it wasn’t feasible,” he said.
Phil Libin, a mentor at the institute and founder and CEO of Evernote, the online software program, says he spends as much time discouraging as encouraging participants. “I ask people, ‘If I could guarantee that you would spend the next 10 years developing a product millions of people will use but you will make no money for a decade and it will be a total financial failure, will you do it?’ Most people answer no,” he said.