I want to relay a theory I have about starting a business but in order to do so I want you to envision something: a person in a translucent bubble. The person is right in the middle, somehow floating there, able to see in all directions (at least to some degree). That’s the start-up.
In order to grow the business the person in the bubble needs to push as hard as it can on a spot in the bubble. It doesn’t move easily nor does it expand easily. One person can only push so hard, two people can push a little better, but adding too many people into the bubble means no one can move or push as there are too many people in there. The goal at this stage is to move the bubble and at some point grow the bubble so more people can push it in the right direction.
The beauty of the bubble is that it can go in any direction at this stage. It is standing still and any path might be the right one.
So I was thinking about the magazine and newspaper industry this morning and thinking that this is an industry that has too many people in the bubble and their momentum has carried them down the wrong path. Now, they are trying to reverse course, move in a new direction, and in many cases trying to do it with all these people.
Another problem for the industry though is that their backs are against the wall. I take this analogy quite literally — the bubble is pushed up against a wall. That limits the directions the business can go, hemming them in.
One final thought: better to burst your own bubble then let someone else do it. Better to force a change in direction before your back is against the wall.