Start-up guys versus what’s up guys

Wilson Orhiunu

First Gentleman with Wilson Orhiunu

Email: Twitter: @Babawilly

A start-up that works brings in the money and makes all the stakeholders happy. Partners are financially secured for life, investors wake up with a smile and all the suppliers get paid on time. The extra injection of funds into the ecosystem attracts in the party people; the “what’s up” guys.

While the start-up guys are focused on actualising their vision, the what’s up guy as his name implies has no particular vision or purpose to accomplish so roams about town looking for someone to tell him where the party’s at.

In the song ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, Michael Jackson sang:

I said you wanna be startin’ something

You got to be startin’ something

While the lyrics address teams of people starting ventures that lead to trouble, the lyrics infer a certain compulsion among people who start things. It might be a band, a football team, a brothel or a crew of armed robbers but whatever the enterprise, sometimes the individuals cannot say why they formed their coalition.

Start-up guys are risk takers and tend to fail.  Being perpetual in cycles of failure, they accrue experience of what works via bitter experiences and soon strike it rich. Immune to the shame of failed project they march forward through adversity usually not even stopping to celebrate victories along the way. There is always that new mountain to climb or ocean to swim across. Musical bands are the ultimate start-ups. Everyone goes into the studio hoping for a hit but everybody gets hit at different levels. Most are hit with disappointments and the chosen few are hit with chart success.

This is where the what’s up guy comes in. He parties to the music of the hit makers and has the time of his life. He knows he will win no major life awards with his lifestyle of risk avoidance but decides to enjoy every single minute of his life. While the music band wins their Grammy award and tour the world stressed, rich and resorting to drugs, the what’s up guy parties to the music and appears to enjoy it more than its creators.

The downside of being a happy-go-lucky what’s up guy is no great achievement is possible. They wait for others to dictate what is happening. The skill of taking initiative is lost and one’s destiny is adrift in a rudderless boat.

Bill Gross in his Ted talk titled, “The single biggest reason why start-ups succeed”, named the following five reasons in order of importance as –

Timing – 42%

Team – 32%

Ideal – 28%

Business model – 24%

Funding – 14%

This throws out the old age excuse risk averse people give for their lack of start-up initiative; a lack of funds.

Take a group of criminally minded guys with a bit of drive and a hunger for success. They might not have funding for guns but if the timing is right and they incorporate their stealing gang when the police is at its weakest or most corrupt and they make a killing. With timing and the team sorted out, the brainstorming on whether to strike homes, banks or hotels with safes can be done over beers and they could start their first job using toy guns.

The problem with timing is that it sometimes is subjective. You feel, you strike and the historians will discuss the actions in retrospect. No matter the analysis done, no one can ever say for sure if the prevailing winds represent perfect timing.

That is the risk taken by anyone who wants to make things happen.

Not all what’s up people are party people. Some are civil servants who are good and hardworking folks relying on their employers and government to create an environment that would be conducive to daily living. If the government or employer becomes broke and cannot pay salaries or defaults on pension repayments in retirement, those without any entrepreneurial skills will be stranded.

Everybody can start something based on natural talents and dispositions. Some start fights, rumours, bad gangs and a life of crime while others start businesses, movements and new ways of delivering services.

It is too risky to do nothing while waiting for something to happen. The certainties are always taxes, more nothing and death. By stroke of luck something might just happen.  Something like the Hailey’s comet landing in your back garden delivering 20 pieces of large diamonds.