The Web Is Hard

By Spicer Matthews

The Web Is Hard WorkAs a 4th generation entrepreneur, and as someone who grew up in a small town, being a business owner has a very different meaning to me than to someone from the silicon valley. I grew up watching my father and grandfather build businesses on their own with nothing more than an idea, willingness to take risk, and maybe some capital from savings. Half my friends had parents who ran some sort of small business in the community. None of these companies had investors, none of these companies had boards of directors, and none of these companies were being built to be sold. Many of these companies had revenues in the millions even. Many of these business owners did end up selling their companies, but as a form of retirement.

Maybe I am jaded because I am in the Internet business, but I talk to future entrepreneurs every day - people with dreams and plans of running their own business. I have been talking to such people for over a decade now. More and more I am hearing from people not thinking about starting businesses the traditional way for traditional reasons. Everyone wants to start an Internet company. It makes me wonder: is the small town entrepreneur dead? Are we entering into a period when the market is no longer the small town, but the world? Are we entering into a period when hard work and a little savings are not enough to start a company and be one’s own boss?

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with building a web business. Heck, I am no one to criticize since I have founded several Internet companies (as well as several small town businesses). We hear all the time that most start-ups fail. I think people need to be clearer about what it means to affirm that “most web start-ups fail”. I think the chances of success, defined by not having to close down your business in the future, are much greater in the traditional model described above. I am rather sure the number of failed Internet start-ups is higher than the number of failed traditional businesses.

All this begs the question; In a world where more and more future entrepreneurs are turning to the web is the entrepreneurial spirit going to decrease because the success rates are much lower?