“How do we fix the startup ecosystem?”
We’ve heard this being said often enough, and say it ourselves fairly often. My take on the answer to this holy grail.
I asked my Twitter and LinkedIn what they’d like to see me write about. A bunch of you responded and I’m grateful you did. I’ll work on picking up on a few of the suggestions people had, and writing on them as and when possible.
“Innovative startups. What changes needed in current startup ecosystem. Been brainstorming since long!” ~ Kapil. Thanks, for this one.
My key thought here is: let’s worry less about the ‘ecosystem’; but look at ourselves and how we function, and lets work on that.
We make up the ecosystem, and the actions of each one us have ripple effects that extend into it. It is through our actions and these ripple effects that we will be able to change the ecosystem. Not through anything else.
Here’s a list on some of what I think we should all be doing, in no specific order:
1. Offer help Try ensure that in every email, conversation and meeting you say (and mean) “How can I help you?”. People will have varied requests, that mean a range of time/effort asks from you.
Do your best to help them however you can. Without expectation. Without holding a favour over their head, or making them feel they owe you.
2. Be clear when asking for help When you want help, be crystal clear and upfront about the help you need. Half the time people beat around the bush when asking for help, and honestly — who the hell has time for that.
3. Receiving Feedback Given what I do, I end up discussing and sharing my thoughts and feedback with a lot of people. So this is a bit of a pet peeve.
If you’re asking someone for feedback, or they are volunteering their time, effort and brains to give it to you, please remember: a) they do not owe it to you (unless you are paying them for it — and even then, not necessarily) b) do NOT be defensive and try justify or “answer” their points c) understand that they will not truly be impacted if you succeed or if you fail. d) do NOT be defensive and try justify or “answer” their points e) understand what they think, and why they think it f) do NOT be defensive and try justify or “answer” their points g) try probe them for what they would change / their solutions
When asking for feedback, also be articulate about what specifically you want feedback on. Make it easier for someone to focus on, and give you feedback on what matters to you.
4. Giving Feedback Don’t sugarcoat.
If they’re sorted on pt 3. above, they will love you for it; and if they aren’t, whatever feedback you give matters little — so you might as well preserve your intellectual honesty and call a spade a spade.
I have to admit, it’s hard. Sharing your honest opinion when its harsh, with people more experienced than you, those close to you, and what not. But it’s for the better.
5. Introductions When introducing two people, 9 times out of 10, you should be doing a double opt-in introduction. Read here to understand what that means.
Admittedly, I have been guilty of this myself. Soaib was kind enough to point it out, and help me fix it. Thanks! 😀
6. Don’t support bullshit Call out bullshit. Doesn’t matter where its from — a unicorn founder, your team-mate, an investor, a journalist; call it out.
The first step to reducing bullshit around all of us, is to identify and call it out.
7. Execution is everything Not attending events. Not social media. Not selfies with startup celebs. Not writing on Medium (irony). Not… what a lot of us, self included, keep ourselves occupied with. Yes, all of this is important and they have roles to play as a part of execution. But only as part, not as an end in itself.
Go build your business, and do less of other (stupid) shit.
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We’ve all heard this stuff before — but the point I’m making is that these very things, are the answer to how do we build and have a better ecosystem around us. The changes we come up with need to be at an individual level, not at an ecosystem one, if they are to truly be actionable.
What would you say are things each one of us could do, to make for a better ecosystem around us? I’d love to know, I’m learning and growing as well.