Being A Lone Warrior (Single Founder) : Why ? Why Not ?

[As part of our coverage of Single Founder/Solopreneur, here is an interesting well-balanced view that pretty much sums up the challenges and fun of going solo.]

Why go solo ?

There are ideas and there are ideas. The venture industry, the ‘ecosystem’ and even other folks you meet will jump right into slotting the idea as fundable or not, scalable or not, or even feasible or not. Then there are these other tags and cliches you’ll hear – lifestyle business, capital intensive model, non-monetizable, feature-not-a-product.

But sometimes, the best way forward is to be Nike and just do it. Many an idea dies too early a death caught in analysis-paralysis, and killed by the negativity of thoughts even before its crystalized into a business. Most businesses figure out their exact packaging, revenue streams and the real costs and possible optimizations somewhere along their lifetimes, not as a solved problem upfront. How do you know you’re not going to discover scale as you go along ? How can you be sure there are no other market segments you may be able to address as you come across them ? Optimism and hope are an entrepreneurs currency, and surely many ideas can be made to work. Sure, they may probably not be very attractive VC businesses as they stand when you start out. But that’s about the lousiest reason to not do it!

Another great side effect of the flexibility that going it alone provides is the amount of learning one gains through experiencing it alone. There’s no foil, or excuse, or backup left. Each decision is taken alone, and its consequences must be evaluated, and borne alone as well. Little teaches you like coming face to face with tough, fuzzy choices are having to make a decision with very little elbow room.

But why alone ?

Its not always easy to get another person who

  • truly buys or believes in the idea
  • is not plagued by one of many doubts about the idea discussed above
  • will persist through the troughs, setbacks and stick around to make the changes needed to make the idea work

So going alone may just give the idea the shot it needs. Sure, its a scarier path, and sure, you need to be a little surer of your finances, motivations and the idea itself, but there’s nothing like getting started.

On the other hand, going solo for the following reasons sucks:

  • You do not want to share equity. This will set your company up for failure like little else. The best ideas need ownership – in spirit and flesh – from those who will take it to market at whatever time that’s needed.
  • You don’t like/couldn’t be bothered selling the idea to anyone. Hmm, think again!
  • What you plan to do is illegal! (Though attracting partners for this kind of a thing does not seem to be an issue, from a quick glance of the news).
  • You just don’t get along with people 🙂

Sure there’s flexibility, but there’s also drawbacks of going it alone. Watch out for times when:

  • It just helps to bounce of ideas of someone, and get inputs from someone with skin in the game.
  • There are rejections, setbacks, and you do not feel so sure of your plans
  • You feel super stretched donning multiple hats, but cannot get someone to believe in your idea
  • You need a decision made, and have only gut feel to trust.
  • You have nobody to reaffirm and realign the vision when the need arises

Swaroop C.H., co-founder of a startup, left the company he helped create because of differences of vision and approach. Despite this experience, he says having a partner is a lesser risk than not having one. Its worth noting, of course, that Swaroop has also created http://isbn.net.in, which he calls a ‘”side-project, not a startup” all by himself since he likes to create things, and wanted to take the idea live as soon as possible. “A good co-founder is a multiplier of your potential. (But) finding one in a miracle!”, he adds with the kind of conviction that comes off experience.

Its important to remember that its not about you. Its about the idea and mostly, it deserves to see light of day. Going alone, or with a co-founder is not the key focus. Don’t get too hung with this one way or the other being the right one. Of course, it does help to remember what the package comes with, whichever way you go.

[About the author : Sameer is a Product Strategy Consultant at http://slicedbread.in, but has also gone solepreneur in hospitality with http://linger-at-coorg.in]

[Ashish adds: From my personal experience with Pluggd.in, the whole damn thing of going solo can be summed up as

“Main Akela Hi Chala Tha Janebe Manjil, Magar Log Milte Gaye Aur Caravan Banta Gaya!

As I said earlier (Challenges of being a Solopreneur – Dancing in the Dark?), it is always better to get the damn thing going, instead of waiting till eternity to find ‘that’ perfect match].

What’s your opinion?

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