Start-ups from medical device maker Theranos to the recently re-branded Uber are receiving more scrutiny on everything from the reliability of their technology to their valuations. When coupled with news that the fourth quarter of 2015 saw significantly less available capital for startups, it's easy to think that the time to start your business has passed.
However, that's not really true.
Sure, you might have to demonstrate that your technology works, or your business model is compatible with regulatory requirements, or that you have a viable revenue stream.
Here's the thing, though: Showing that your technology works, that your business model can withstand regulatory scrutiny, and showing you can actually make money is and always has been a requirement for the vast majority of entrepreneurs.
Look around your office. Someone made the chair you're sitting on, the desk you're standing at, or the lights you're working under. Those businesses probably aren't all that sexy. But their technology works and the companies that made those things are generating actual revenue.
Here's what no one will tell you about building a company like that - a company that lasts.
No one will tell you that building a company requires knowing something first.
I work with a lot of young, aspiring entrepreneurs who attend classes at my local university. They want to start their own business - they just aren't sure what they want to do, but they know they don't want to do it while working for someone else. That's a backward way to approach being an entrepreneur, and one that faces limited chances of success.
Most of the successful entrepreneurs I know started businesses based on a specific set of knowledge and experiences they had. They didn't decide they wanted to start a business, and then found something to focus on.
They were a cook who got so good he knew he needed his own kitchen, or a programmer so good she knew she needed her own lab.
No one will tell you how important a network is - or the way a powerful network really gets forged.
I attend a lot of networking opportunities for entrepreneurs. They are great learning opportunities, but more often than not it is the needy networking with the equally needy. The most valuable network I have in starting my consulting firm isn't from fellow entrepreneurs. My most valuable network comes from the industry I spent years in. It comes from the people I already knew who shared common experiences and common connections.
Experience doesn't just help aspiring entrepreneurs build a skill-set. Experience also gives entrepreneurs a genuine network that can help him or her build an actual revenue generating business.
No one will tell you how demoralizing seeking funding can be.
You may have a great vision for a new product or service. However, don't assume that others will see that vision, or, even if they do that they will rush to invest in that vision. Especially now, when startups are increasingly being asked to demonstrate actual revenue before they receive funding.
When it comes to startups, the age of the Unicorn may be ending, but the age of the workhorse is always here.
If you're thinking about starting a business, become good at something,leverage your network, and figure out how to make money before you ask other people for theirs.