So, I decided to be a Fish
The best way to protect your startup is to prepare yourself for multiple strategic pivots. And to do so, you have to detach emotionally from your original idea.
Tell me if this sounds familiar : you had a wonderful idea for a startup. Really, this time, an incredible one — that could actually make you successful.
So you jump in. But still, every time you search the web for what your competitors (or potential competitors) are up to, you have this fear …
What if someone had the same idea ? What if my initial idea is proven wrong ?
Spoiler alert : If you can stick to your initial idea, you are the luckiest entrepreneur alive
Six years ago, I killed my first startup in the nest with one simple — but unforgivable- attitude : I was stubborn and refused to compromise with my initial idea.
I got offers from potential clients that could have made the difference and helped us achieve our first goal, but I refused them because I was asked to modify my concept. Not a lot. But I refused anyways.
In short : I was a plant. So I failed.
Introducing the fish/plant paradigm
Now that I have created my second startup, I have decided to be a fish. But what does it mean ? (I promise I am not crazy-not yet).
A fish and a plant are both living things that need water to remain alive. But if you extract them from water, the two will have two very different attitudes : the fish will struggle, jump in every direction it can, until it gets back to the water or succumbs. The plant will not move one bit, and is pretty sure to be condemned.
With my first startup, I was a plant. This means that I wasn’t ready to modify or to move from my original idea, in order to find my market. So, as this idea was not perfect for any market, it died. Stupid, right ?
Fishes do care but do not attach themselves
When I decided to launch my current project, I promised to myself never to do the same thing again. If you get thrown out of the water, you have to fight. No matter what brought you there, no matter the inherent beauty of your initial concept, you have to find you market at any cost.
Plant-epreneurs will tend not to listen. They are too afraid to discover anything that would pick wholes in their initial concept. And as everyone nows, an entrepreneur that does not listen (to clients, advisors …) is doomed.
Fishes will listen as much as they can, because they have one goal, and only one : they want to find their market. So they are ready to pivot at any time. And until they run out of funds, they will try, and try again.
Of couse, one should not pivot every day, everything in life is grey, and it is all about moving between black and white. But it is an incredible mistake to believe that you will shape a market that is not ready for you — at least if you do not have unlimited funding.
So the thing I did on the first day was to prepare myself to compromise. I really — really — like the initial concept of uTip. But I now understand that if I want to give this concept a chance, and if I want my company to thrive one day, I have to be prepared to pivot if my clients ask me to.
I did the mistake once. I am not going to make it twice. In short :
Look at me. I’m a fish ! — Me. Still not crazy.