The Wins that Count

First, congratulations to Sorry as a Service. We always like to see our Baltic friends get positive mentions in the press, and see them supported and promoted.

This article bothered me a bit, though, or rather, reminded me of a part of the Startup sphere that is a problem. Sorry as a Service has won admission into a London accelerator. That’s good, I suppose, if that’s what they want, and where they want to be. But the article is making a very big deal of something that is not directly related to actual business success. It’s suggesting that this is, by itself a victory, rather than an opinion of a very small group of people.

The press reports on a lot of victories: winning the audience vote or the judges’ vote on a demo stage; graduating from an accelerator; making a Top 10 list compiled by some people who decided to compile a Top 10 list.

These things are nice, but let’s be real: they’re about as meaningful as your friends all reassuring you that you are smart and have a great personality, and you are definitely going to get the job you applied for, because they’d be CRAZY not to take you. It’s good to hear, but it has no actual effect on whether or not you get the job.

These “wins” are not actual victories – they’re opinions. Actual victories are the things that lead to your company becoming profitable and making a product that people want to buy. Winning is what happens when you’ve built what you want to build, and you’re running in the black.

The trouble is that there is no single victory to report that marks the line between losing and winning. An audience vote, admission to an accelerator, or a big investment — these are clear events, and easy to report on. The real story of a company moving from idea to execution isn’t dramatic, though. Real wins are tiny.

The first time a customer pays real money for your MVP is a huge victory – to you, but not to a journalist looking for a story. The first time someone reaches out to you because they heard about your project and they want you to consider them as an employee, that’s huge, but it doesn’t make for much of a headline. The first time you take a weekend off, not because you’re about to crash from exhaustion, but because you can actually afford the time off, that’s a volcanic eruption of victory for a startup!

TechCrunch is not going to report on it, though.

There are a thousand wins to celebrate, truly meaningful ones. Admission into an accelerator might be advantageous (although the evidence on that is actually a little thin), but it’s not half as meaningful as the moment you sign a lease on your own office space (that you can actually afford).

Keep your focus on what matters, folks.

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