When it comes to startups, most outsiders view them as risky; they're companies that will succeed by pure luck or happenstance, and are not supported by process and communities. This is a serious image problem for startups and one that Sustainable Startups look to shed by creating repeatable processes and supporting the fundamentals around increasing prosperity. Sustainable Startups is the published methodology I, and the team I work with, have created detailing our experience of what makes a startup company work and what doesn't.
In order to truly prosper, entrepreneurs have to do a better job of revealing some of their secret sauce and understand that, while sharing knowledge may limit your individual advantage, it benefits the community in the long-run.
Hoarding knowledge is bad for everyone. When it comes to knowledge there is an inherent, human need to protect what you have that sets you apart from others. Entrepreneurs are no different, and when the ego of an entrepreneur kicks in to high gear, they may just be a little worse.
A true Sustainable Startup is focused on growing the company on a continual basis. To do this, it needs to have strong community support, and no one gets that support by keeping their knowledge to themselves. Information on what drives success and failure is invaluable to the startup community and is necessary for developing a network of trust and support. Without forming and participating in that network, a Sustainable Startup cannot exist.
Fight the ego. Artists do not produce masterpieces and then squirrel them away in a basement. An entrepreneur should be no different: her experience and knowledge is the painting on a canvas that needs to be shared. The essence of building a repeatable process is information gathering; successful entrepreneurs should be able to ingest information and experience outside of their own expertise.
Entrepreneurship is an ego-driven business, and our knowledge and experiences are tied to that ego. Keeping knowledge private is the same as admitting that you can't do it again, with an even playing field; that once you've created a successful company, you can't repeat the process without the knowledge you have, and the advantage it gives you. Entrepreneurs need to share their experiences and bring their entire community up to a mutual level of understanding.
Prosperity moves everyone forward. The goal of any startup is to succeed. Whether that comes from leading in market share, or a successful exit strategy, an entrepreneur's focus is always on the prize at the end of the road. When you're building a Sustainable Startup, that end goal involves creating prosperity. It isn't about a single person becoming successful or wealthy, but creating an environment where prosperity is possible for everyone within the community.
Sharing the keys to the success you've had is integral to creating and supporting prosperity. By raising the knowledge base of the entire community, an entrepreneur can move the community forward and closer to success. Knowledge sharing fills the gaps in understanding by offering new perspectives, while at the same time creating an environment where success in the startup world is less about luck, and more about executing on commonly held knowledge and experience.
Sharing knowledge is the fundamental act of supporting prosperity. Without it, entrepreneurs act in a vacuum, away from communal support and living within their own specific knowledge set. When this is the case, people only see the failure rate of startups and piece together the puzzle for themselves. To build a Sustainable Startup, one must focus on building a community, sharing knowledge and taking advantage of learning opportunities.
Cameron Chell is co-founder and CEO of Business Instincts Group, a venture creation firm in Calgary that finances and builds high-tech startups. To learn more about his work with sustainable startups visit www.CameronChell.com