Launching a start-up can be a risky business. Statistics show that up to 3 out of 4 venture-backed start-ups fail. That number is even higher for start-ups without venture backing.
But what if you could learn the ropes before launching your start-up? Not just at another company in the industry, but at a company that began as a start-up, has turned a profit every year since, and is now launching other start-up businesses?
A company like Planet Innovation.
At PI, we develop new products and new businesses. If you are an aspiring tech entrepreneur, who dreams of starting your own company, come and work for us first. We know that people with the critical entrepreneurial skills of strong judgment, stakeholder partnership, risk management, team leadership, learning agility and business knowledge will have a higher chance of delivering our project business outcomes1. And you will have a significantly greater chance of being a start-up success when your time comes.
So we all win.
Here are five reasons why working at PI (first) will make you more likely to succeed if you do choose to leave us to live the start-up dream.
There is a reason our companies are successful: we have an unwavering focus on market need and customer value. What does that mean? We find out what problems our customers have, how much they’d pay for a solution, and then we develop products and services that people want and need.
Sounds simple, but it’s not. One of the top reasons so many start-ups fail is that there was no market need. Many entrepreneurs spend years (and millions) developing products that nobody wants to buy.
Working at PI exposes you to the processes, experiences, insights and methodology we use to evaluate commercially viable ideas. Come and gain some insight into how we evaluate opportunities that are commercially worthwhile and learn about how we work with customers to solve their problems.
Another reason many start-ups fail is that entrepreneurs think success will be guaranteed by the quality of the idea. Yes, ideas matter; but execution matters just as much. To be successful you need to have a strategy and, most importantly, you need to implement that strategy effectively.
Working at PI gives you the experience to develop your operational excellence. Managing projects, risks, budgets, resources and people are all skills that need honing to successfully launch a business (service or product). You’ll learn what is needed to commercialize an idea from the ground up.
At PI, you can spend your days working alongside other successful entrepreneurial leaders. Our four founders are highly astute commercially-successful entrepreneurs, as are many of the people who work with us. At PI Labs, our internal venture arm, we are incubating and growing a range of businesses, all at different stages of maturity. At PI Design and PI Manufacturing, our services divisions, we work with other entrepreneurial businesses to help develop their products and strategy.
Working alongside and learning from these industry leaders will give you incredible insight that you can draw on when starting your own company. Seeing firsthand how these individuals think, act, focus, prioritize, learn and pivot based on new opportunities is the stuff that textbooks and university lectures can’t teach. Exposure to key thinking, mentoring and direct experience is a powerful learning mechanism.
Successful entrepreneurs are typically well rounded across many business functions such as finance, team leadership, marketing and customer relationships. The more you know (or the more you know what you don’t know!) before you start your company, the less you’ll need to rely on other people to fill the gaps. Hiring the right support staff or consultants is easier when you have at least a broad understanding of what is involved.
At PI, our staff have the opportunity to work closely with, and get hands-on experience in, disciplines outside their immediate remit. For example, an industrial designer might work across projects in marketing, engineering, software development and sales. We encourage our staff to engage with all facets of the business and are happy to support them in pursuing their interests. While we have position descriptions, and everyone has tasks that must be achieved as part of their role, we also have a culture that encourages and values staff getting involved in areas that are of interest to them. We are not defined by our job titles. We encourage people to play to their strengths. So come and show us what you’ve got! Be paid to learn.
Business success can depend on networks. An introduction to a valuable client or investor can accelerate your progress. Investors know this and often use it to their advantage. They trade on their contacts and promise to introduce you to influential people. In return, they expect a more significant share of your company.
What if you already have networks? You know the bankers, the investors, the channel partners and CEOs of global companies because you met them working for us? That puts you in a much more powerful position when dealing with investors. You might not even need investors, and if you do, you won’t have to give them such a big share of your company.
If you come and work for PI, then go off and start your own company, we’ll be sad to see you go. But we’ll be glad if you succeed. The world needs more great businesses run by great entrepreneurs.
1 CEB PMO Leadership Council (2014). Entrepreneurial Skills Toolkit.