It’s common sense that the startup journey is like a rollercoaster ride. Partly, I agree with such a statement. But there are more than two major directions for startup. I identified three of them. And the third is the scariest one to me. The three directions are: Up, down, halt.
Enjoying the hype in the market and great team performance can be easy. The market is pulling, and things are moving fast. Problems occur and bring only little tension in such a dynamic landscape, which is resolved with little effort.
Downturns are inevitable and necessary for learning. Contributing factors to a downturn maybe macro and micro: timing, product, team, market fit issues, economic downturns, weak startup ecosystems etc. Basically, it’s not working out. That’s difficult and only the best startups can manage themselves in tough situations. Such startups build real businesses and do not rely on the illusion of luck.
For me, the up or down scenarios are equally fine. Because whether it’s going up or down, I see the direction. It’s simple. What really scares the hell out of me is the situation of going nowhere. Imagine, everybody in your team is doing her or his job. On the inside, something is happening. Hey, that’s good! But when you look at the overall progress from the macro-level, the startup is not moving. And solely by talking about superiority and flexibility of the technology or business model won’t move you
Such a state is a deadly disease for a startup. It’s called complacency. To me, it’s equal to lethargy. Here are some ways I found to diagnose the lethargy and to treat the symptoms.
Symptom: “They don’t get it”
You present your idea to a bunch of people and also experts. But they don’t get your genius idea or superior technology. You are talking about your startup and your plans and every time people ask the same questions.
You should become very cautious. If they don’t get what you plan is, it’s not because they lack education and you are too brilliant. It’s because you haven’t done your homework and now you are stuck, and you don’t get your current situation.
Take this feedback seriously and use your passion for your business idea to make your ideas digestible.
You will discover assumptions you make that make no sense.
Symptom: Comfort, aka group thinking
If you have raised money there will always be a phase of comfort. It’s like a vacation weekend. Enjoy it, but make sure to come back from that mental vacation. Comfort can become a root of inefficiency. That’s not what you want! You are just started to build great future and you love this work. Don’t let your mind become numb by those first successes. Don’t pour water into the fire of your passion. That’s probably not the reason why you started the whole thing.
1. Do you have relevant milestones and ambitious goals? If yes, continue reading, if no, figure them out with your team today. Yes, today!
2. Are you moving towards your goals and milestones? Don’t say in your mind yes, to avoid the pain. Otherwise, you won’t learn anything about the progress.
3. Most critical: are you moving at the right pace towards your goals?
Hallucinogen-like: You will expand your perspective and identify blind spots.
Symptom: High expectations
We begin the startup journey to shape the world. On this journey, we also need to change ourselves. Probably, some of us will have higher expectations than others. And that’s a very good thing. Somebody must navigate the startup towards excellence. You want to become the best and not the average. Who wants average technology or average brands? Average is poison to startups. I always set high expectations. Situations, when my high expectations don’t match the reality, are tough for me. I become rather busy with the conflict between my expectations and reality. But the result is that I stop moving towards success. I was looking for a solution for this problem and I figured out how to manage it.
Remedy: Raise the expectations!
1. First, raise the expectations for yourself. Become better every day!
2. Stop expecting results from others and show the necessity of becoming better. Do the hard work better and faster! This will catch fire and spread the passion for the startup in your team. And that is the result you want in the team: a great team that will build a great future!