Starting a Company – Like Climbing Everest? Part I

Three months in and I am loving this entrepreneurial journey more and more each day.

I have been thinking a lot about how to capture what the experience is like and I was drawn to the “Climbing a Mountain” metaphor.  With this in mind, I found a great site about climbing Mount Everest and what it means from start to finish.  I think the parallels are pretty close, so let me have some fun with this metaphor because I really love stretching a metaphor.

For the second post in a row, this is going to be too long for a single posting.  Hmmmm … should I be questioning this? 🙂

The Dream

Just like climbing Everest, you need to have the dream. You cannot do this for someone else. You have to believe in the idea of your company. You need to be passionate about it.  Daresay, you have to be obsessed with the idea … maybe to the point of, I-am-not-going-to-be-happy-on-my-deathbed kind of obsessed.

Point Zero

First, are you fit enough? In this case, are you fit enough as an entrepreneur? Can you handle the uncertainty and risk? Can you afford to not make money for an extended period of time? Do you have the support network in family and friends? Are you OK setting your own direction? Can you pitch customers, future employees, and investors with the passion necessary to get them on board?

Second, can you raise the funds?  In the case of Everest, this isn’t cheap. Maybe $25,000 or so. Do you get it from friends and family or use your own money? Unless you are a professional climber (or entrepreneur with proven success), good luck getting external sponsorship and funding. In the startup case (at least in the case of an internet startup), the good news is that you likely only need to raise enough from yourself, friends and family to get to the equivalent of base camp.  The bad news is that it is likely somewhere between 10X and 20X (even with a lot of sweat equity) than the amount required to climb Everest.

Ground Work

In climbing the mountain, this is all about paperwork, getting an agency, paying permits, transportation, food and so forth. In the startup world, it is all about shareholder agreements, thinking about IP, finding the right key partners, talking to potential (down the road) investors, and pitching the idea for validity to as many people as possible.

Climbing Gear, Communications and People

Climbing gear is pretty straightforward in the mountaineering world. The equivalent in business is making sure you have all the physical assets you need at your disposal and to properly anticipate and budget for their cost.

Communications are key to climbing – and more so with blogging to the world. It is the same in a startup. Having a communication strategy determined early is key. How will you communicate to potential customers? investors? future employees? key partners? trusted advisors? Like all things in life, communication is a key cornerstone that is way too easy to overlook. In the case of climbing, and starting a business, communication really does become a matter of life and death.

Who are the sherpas? Who are your climbing partners? Who will be your support “at home”? Like communication in all areas of life, the people whom you decide to surround yourself will make a massive difference in your success, happiness and fulfillment. Take the time to get the right partners, employees, investors, advisors, partners and support group. If your time is feeling overwhelmed and you have to cut, do not cut on the time spent on people. Ever.

OK, this is getting long. Let’s leave this one here. It was more fun (and eye opening!) for me that I thought it would be. And, the actual climb has nowhere to go but up.  (Did I really just say that?!?!)

’til Part II … Kirk, out!

One thought on “Starting a Company – Like Climbing Everest? Part I

  1. Pingback: Starting a Company – Like Climbing Everest – Part II | Kirk Munroe

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