Unicorn startups do not exist. Stop chasing fairy tales

Unicorn startups just like unicorns do not exist.

Nowadays, virtually everyone has some advice for entrepreneurs on how to create the next unicorn startups. There are thousands of books, conferences, guides, mentors, meetups, incubators, you name it. The Industry turned out to be a very well-tuned machine to “help you out”.

At the same time, several institutions, governments, and basically the entire Economy wants you to start up and keep it going. It lures you into “being your own boss”, to do innovative things and ultimately get you rich by following your passion. The holy grail of being filthy rich through an Exit is promised to you if you work hard and have a great idea. Being one of the famous Unicorn Startups is the goal for you to achieve, and everyone is here to help you.

Behold the $Billion Incentives and Grants to get you to create a new startup

In both Europe and the US, citizens have at their disposal a myriad of grants to help out. The incentives provide initial cash to get enterprises started. You just need to make a little effort and a slightly above mediocre pitch to get them. Then after your start, you have all sorts of forms of fundraising to help you out.

All of this is carefully orchestrated to get you started with your brilliant idea. Equally important is to keep you going, to “help you out” in this incredible journey. 

So what’s wrong with the entrepreneurship industry?

Well, pretty much EVERYTHING. Today’s Entrepreneur is no different than a Casino Gambler, with way fewer chances of winning anything. 

No, hard work will not get you there, nor will it be your passion, and much less a brilliant idea.

The truth is that It’s all about RISK

Entrepreneurs are naive risk takers, who believe in Unicorns, Fairy Tales and holy grails. All other participants are risk-free in this game.

The other participants give you the impression that they are helping you out. But in fact, they’re after your work for free and your money. Yes, that’s the harsh truth.

Authors and Mentors don’t want to help you out. They wanna have the risk-free income of selling books and supporting you. The government doesn’t want to help you, they want your taxes, more employment and dynamic economies. The more unicorn startups are created, the better. 

No one really cares if you are successful or not, they don’t care if you win or lose. In the end, the government will get their taxes, and all other participants will get their money… except the Entrepreneur.

The truth is Entrepreneurs all wanna be rich quick. They mock people who get lured on “wanna-be-rich schemes”. Although, they don’t realize they’re actually in one gigantic scheme set up to get their money and sacrifice.

So, why aren’t there more entrepreneurs seeing things as they actually are?

Well, I’d say to start with, most suffer from the Dunning–Kruger effect. All entrepreneurs believe they are special, and that a special magical skill or idea will make them succeed. 

The Industry revolves around the following particular aspect. Everyone loves that magical idea that can only be disclosed with a hefty NDA, that new magical technology that will change the world for good.

Some argue that this is what drives the economy, humanity and the world. However, it is at the expense of the Entrepreneur. 

This systematic pattern happens over and over again. Overconfidence without knowledge leads to very poor decision-making. 

And this is the state of mind where pretty much ALL entrepreneurs start their businesses.

It’s all downhill from here.

How the startup unicorn dream ends

Everyone knows it and takes advantage of it, except the entrepreneur that is so much in love with their business that is willing to accept almost everything, to keep it going… because this idea will be a Unicorn Startup.

Then when the Entrepreneur starts having doubts, Impostor syndrome, when the money starts lacking, and they feel that maybe they’re sabotaging themselves, that’s when the industry comes and “helps you” out even more.

While that happens, they’ll either have enough resilience and keep it going, or their journey simply ends.

Going back to the corporate world until the next big idea comes up becomes now an option, then it’s just a matter of starting it all over again. However, some get into trouble or heavy debt that doesn’t allow them to ever go back to Entrepreneurship.

The reasonings to justify what, in truth, is low odds

Everyone will tell you that you and your company failed for a particular reason, but the reality was that your chances were very, very slim to start with.

Most entrepreneurs leave the corporate rat race just to enter a new race, a new trap, full of illusions.

Because it generates huge amounts of money for all participants, this is a problem that no one wants to solve, and one that the entrepreneur doesn’t want to acknowledge. It’s the perfect setup for failure.

The Industry fosters success, not failure. Despite the very well-known fact that 80% of the business fail within 5 years, nothing of this is seriously addressed.

So, if I’m an Entrepreneur who doesn’t want this fate, how can I change the odds in my favor? 

Humility

First I’d probably forget all that the industry tells me, sure I would still read it with a skeptical mind knowing and acknowledging that they’re ultimately after my money first. I would therefore assume I would know nothing about what I’m going to do. I would be Humble about it, very Humble.
- António Jesus

In fact, if you start by being humble and by realizing that you actually don’t know where you’re heading, you’re already ahead of Valley of Despair. Yes, it will not look good with VCs, Pitches and all of that, but if you actually do the next step right, hopefully, you will probably not need them that much.

Risk

Secondly, I would need it to be Risk-Free, again I would be very aware and acknowledge that everyone will happily take my money. I would make sure I entered a Risk-Free enterprise, in the same way as the other stakeholders in the industry.
- António Jesus

Yes, you need to have profits, to offset your expenses. And you need to have customers lining up before your product exists so that you’re risk-free. If you don’t know how to do it, either learn or don’t create a business. You’re most likely going to fail.

Resilience

Third, I would need to be very Resilient
- António Jesus

If you have mastered the two above, then, it will be way easier to become a resilient entrepreneur. Erik, in Scale Your Everest: How to be a Resilient Entrepreneur, states that for any company to be worthwhile, it needs to be in business for around 8 years. Be prepared for it.

I never believed in Unicorn Startups, Exits and Fairy Tales

In my skeptical view, they’re all made-up artefacts of the Industry to pump and dump Entrepreneurs without mercy.

If you’re like me, you’d better realize your chances and stop believing in mythical creatures.

Look for the facts.