Conventional wisdom is that entrepreneurs in some countries simply have more willingness to take risk. Face devastating failure head on. Be bold.
Other countries are apparently filled with timid entrepreneurs. They think small. No guts.
What if it’s something else?
What if the difference ain’t the risk appetite of the entrepreneurs?
Remember the last time you were in an airplane. Chances are, it landed safely on a runway or landing strip.
Now imagine that same plane trying to land. But there’s no smooth runway or landing strip. Only jagged rock.
Not quite the same risk, is it?
Let’s build more landing strips for entrepreneurs so that they can fly, land and fly again.
Since the early days of monopoly power, customers have had little choice. Typically, monopoly power was obtained without the consent of customers. Sometimes it was even enforced by law.
The unfortunate results have been sadly predictable.
Poor qual ty.
But the context about modern aspiring tech monopolies is different. We, the customers, have a choice.
We can be passive. And let them slowly gain power over our lives. Always watching. All the time. Everywhere.
Or we can be active. Push back against monopoly power. Support competition. Own your information. Turn it off.
Just say no to tech monopolies.
The whole Information Revolution thing is pretty well known.
Because words and analogies from the Industrial Revolution keep being used.
Information process and processing?
Economics of scarcity?
Beyond factories. Think networks.
Beyond process and processing. Think relationships and emergence.
Beyond assembly. Think remix.
Beyond scarcity. Think oversupply.
Beyond asset(s). Think value(s).
Change the language. Change the results.
Pitching customers, investors and partners is a fact of life. If nobody finds your elevator pitch interesting, then you have a problem.
But the goal of an elevator pitch ain’t to please everyone. The goal is to quickly find out who’s interested and who ain’t.
If there is some initial interest, many people continue. They keep pitching for 5 minutes. 30 minutes. 60 minutes. As long as possible. Because they’ve been practicing their pitch. They’ve memorized every point. This is their chance to talk about all the features.
But what if the other party is truly interested? They will interrupt. With questions. With feedback. With objections. Because they are engaged.
Don’t ignore them.
Stop pitching and have a conversation.
Newspapers. Magazines. Radio. Television. The Internet. Train stations. Bus stops. Airports. Highways. Buildings. Your body. Your mind.
Advertising is everywhere. Always on. Making promises it can’t keep.
Delicious nutritious food spiced with nasty chemicals. One of a kind experiences mass produced to keep costs low. Friendly customer service designed to make you sign away any potential liability.
We’ve all been lied to countless times by companies big and small.
As an entrepreneur, it’s easier to follow the proven path. Make big promises. Then break them.
But there is another, harder, path. Make small promises. And then keep them.
When competing against large incumbents, startups usually have less money and fewer people. But that’s a source of competitive advantage for customer service.
Why? Startups care more because they have no choice.
Many large companies have automated phone systems. Some have giant call centers. A few have artificial intelligence agents. But nothing beats interacting with someone who truly cares. At large companies, you have to put in effort just to connect to a person. And then you need to be lucky to find one who cares.
Startups are different. Of course it’s time consuming for the core team to communicate with customers directly. But customers give you raw feedback. Customers enjoy speaking with the core team. Customers are your evangelists. What else could be a better use of the core team’s time?
Sources of competitive advantage are hard to find. Genuine, human customer service is one that cuts across industries and geographies. And the good news is that startups have a natural edge compared to large incumbents.
Serve customers. Because you care.
Iteratefaster. Gogogo. Speedistheonlysustainablecompetitiveedge.
W a i t.
S l o w d o w n.
S e e t h e b i g p i c t u r e.
Look at the data. Listen to the stories. Feel the scar tissue.
They’re both right.
They’re both wrong.
There’s no single right answer. Sometimes fast. Sometimes slow.
In today’s world of accelerating change, iterating quickly is important. But just as important is deciding what to iterate on by using judgement. Using judgement requires clarity of thought. Clarity of thought comes from slowing down.
In today’s world of structural shifts, understanding driving forces is key. But just as important is taking advantage of inflection points by being adaptive. Being adaptive requires action. Action comes from speeding up.
Feel the tempo of the market. Combine the fast and the slow. Find the rhythm.
Maker time is important.
To build. To write. To think.
But a startup ain’t just about making.
It’s about selling. It’s about hiring. It’s about fundraising. All of this requires time. How to find time?
Yes, there is a specific time to close deals. To hire people. To raise money. But these relationships are built over months and years.
Always be selling. Always be hiring. Always be fundraising.
Juggling is an art. If you do too much, things drop and break. So do enough but not more.
Keep your maker time but make room for juggle time.
Entrepreneurship is a long road. It’s a punishing road. Hence the need to focus.
Based on this logic, some people feel that intersections on this road are a distraction. Better to keeping going forward.
But intersections create opportunities. Hot intersections, full of action, create the best opportunities.
What are hot intersections? Place where entire worlds are colliding. Art and science. Natural and artificial. Timeless and new.
Each world is built on a set of assumptions. And it’s extremely difficult to find common ground among assumptions that contradict one another. Most of the time, attempting to combine these worlds results in a mess.
But it’s worth the effort. Because, when this works, the results are spectacular.
Find hot intersections on the road of entrepreneurship.
Another new day, another new tool.
A platform for sharing. A service for analytics. An app for wasting time.
They’re shiny. And they suck you in.
A few of these tools may even be useful.
It’s OK to try them out. But before you commit your time. Your energy. Your trust. Make sure to ask a few simple questions.
What goals do you want this new tool to help you achieve?
What is the tool asking from you in return?
What would happen if the tool disappeared?
The upside of lots of shiny new tools is experimentation and innovation. The downside is junk and abuse of users.
Master your tools, don’t let them master you.