Entrepreneurship is hard. REALLY hard. But with countless tales of how entrepreneurs made it big with almost nothing, it’s easy for a budding founder to jump into the startup world full of unbridled enthusiasm.
Luckily, Startup Misconceptions is here to clear up the myths, delusions, and fancies surrounding entrepreneurship, with useful advice from experts. So, sorry if we rain on your parade, but we believe a successful entrepreneur is a prepared entrepreneur. You’ll thank us later.
In this installment, we focus on the common belief among "wantrepreneurs" that you have to move to Silicon Valley to launch a startup.
Myth #1: Starting a Company in Silicon Valley is Easy
Reality: No, it’s not.
While Silicon Valley is home countless up and coming startups, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the region somehow makes it easier to build a company from scratch than any other place in the world.
The reason for is that expectations for what constitutes a viable company in Silicon Valley are higher than most other regions, which means that most startups in the region have to be much further along in their development to attract interest from investors and advisors.
Here’s what Google co-founder Sergey Brin has to say on the matter:
During the boom cycles, the expectations around the costs - real estate, salaries - the expectations people and employees have...it can be hard to make a scrappy initial business that's self-sustaining, whereas in other parts of the world you might have an easier time for that.
However, if your startup has considerable traction and is ready to expand, moving to Silicon Valley might be a good idea. But until then, stay in your region and focus on growth.
Myth #2: Silicon Valley is the Only Place Where Startups Come From
Reality: Definitely not.
Promising tech companies are popping up in growing startup ecosystems all over the world, and almost everyday new reports are published that list a new region as the next Silicon Valley. A large part of why so many cities across the globe are giving rise to innovative companies is the acceleration of technology that makes it easier than ever for people to become entrepreneurs - even in developing countries.
From countries in Asia to Africa, Europe to South America, Australia to North America, it now seems that every country has the potential to become the next big startup hub. In fact, the Founder Institute hosts free startup events in cities around the world (click here to find an event near you!).
Canada-based serial entrepreneur Ryan Holmes, and founder and CEO of Hootsuite, has this to say about the state of global startup hubs:
Silicon Valley isn't the only game in town. Tech is increasingly decentralized. Around the world, new tech centers with younger companies are able to embrace a different approach to talent: recruit locally, identify homegrown prospects and, in a phrase, bring them along for the ride.
Myth #3: If You Want to Acquire a Lot of Customers, You Have to Start in Silicon Valley
Reality: No, you don’t.
One of the most important tasks early-stage startups have is to find their target customers. Silicon Valley has a diverse population, but that doesn’t mean that your target customers exist there. If your product isn’t geared towards tech-savvy millennials, then you probably don’t need to rush to move your company to Silicon Valley just yet.
If your target customers live primarily in your own respective region, stay where you are and get feedback to develop your product further. As stated before, moving to Silicon Valley is a great idea if your company has a sizeable audience, but not before.
In the Fortune article, “What Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know Before Moving to Silicon Valley”, John Rampton (founder of Due) offer some useful advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who are considering moving to Silicon Valley:
If you have a product or service that will help solve a problem for soccer moms in Middle America, do you think it’s important for your startup to be in Silicon Valley? No. It needs to be in an area where you can get feedback, conduct research, and validate your idea.
While being located in Silicon Valley can have its share of advantages for any startup, keep in mind that your goal as an entrepreneur isn’t to move to the Bay Area - your goal is to build a great product, start an impactful company, and change the world. If you can’t do that with the resources that are currently available to you, you shouldn’t even launch a startup, because people have done far more than you have with far less. So get out there, wherever you are, and create something amazing.
Do you need help launching a company, but don’t live in Silicon Valley? The Founder Institute hosts free startup events in cities around the world where you can practice your pitch, get feedback on your idea, and meet other founders. Find an event near you!