Startups: Be Awesome At Something
Quick post to get back in the swing of things after a much needed vacation.
When I talk to startup product development teams, I listen carefully for people saying things like:
- We’re real __________________ nerds
- We are experts at __________________
- We live and breath __________________
- Our team’s secret weapon is __________________
- We consistently find a way to __________________
- At the core, we’re here today because __________________
If I hear people provide specific, non-plastic responses, my ears perk up.
Luck, first-mover advantage, funding, and connections can get you pretty far. But to win (and continue winning) you need to be awesome at something. That something can be a variety of things—networking, raising money, technical/ux/product chops, knowledge of a certain buyer pain, marketing creativity, etc. — but it needs to be repeatable and intentional.
Startups often fall into these traps:
- They’re scattered: they want to be awesome at everything
- They’re conflicted: they try to be awesome at things which are in direct opposition
- They’re delusional: they make bold, aspirational claims about things that they aren’t, frankly, awesome at
- They’re myopic: they make big bets on being awesome at things that don’t really matter, and don’t give them an edge
- They’re self-conscious: they don’t want to admit what they’re actually good at because it isn’t sexy, “cutting edge”, etc.
These traps lead you down a slippery slope: ignoring and failing to double down on what you’re actually good at and failing to become awesome at what you need to be awesome at.
So, take a moment to answer:
What must we be awesome at?
What are we awesome at?