I was in a conversation among my team members and the topic of “fears” was brought up. From there, I heard different things, from fear of the company failing, to one of the founders quitting, to Facebook funding a local competitor and going against us…
I’ve tried my best of the past year (we’re almost a year in) to squelch those thoughts and it seems to have paid off for the most part. The last thing I want is for the team to get distracted from what we set out to do.
That leads me to the topic for this blog post.
Let’s face it. Startups are paranoid.
The worst part? They fear the wrong things.
Stop Being Scared of the Wrong Things
If you are running a startup or part of one, try not to fear the wrong things. Most “disasters” are not as alarming as it’s made to sound like.
There are a bunch of things that you will encounter during the course of your startup. Most of them, you’d think that it’s the end of the world.
Servers crash. Sometimes you need to change your company name. Sometimes you need to pivot. Sometimes a super important deal falls through. Sometimes, one of your founders quits. Sometimes, you just run into a technical problem that’s impossible to solve!
But you know what? Disasters are quite normal for startups! It’s part of the journey that moulds the team.
They won’t kill you… well, unless you let them kill you.
How About Competitors Killing You Off?
Most competitors that you “think” you should worry about aren’t really the ones that will eventually end up challenging you!
Your startup might be worrying about Google or Facebook trying to build something similar to what you offer.
To tell you the truth, these big companies are not the ones you should be worrying about. The Google people are smart, but no smarter than you. You have to believe in what you do.
Chances are, they’re not as motivated as you because Facebook/Google isn’t really going to go out of business just because this single product fails. Oh, and even if these are progressive companies, they still have a lot of bureaucracy that slows them down. That’s where you have an advantage and you need to see that you have the advantage, not them!
What You Should Really Fear
You know who you should really fear? It’s not those mentioned above.
If you really need to fear one thing, then you should fear your direct competitors. Those other startups just like you or those that you don’t know exist yet.
They’re way more dangerous than Google or Facebook because just like you, they’re cornered animals and as you already know, nothing is more dangerous and capable than a desperate animal.
That’s why you need to use all the advantages that you have with your startup.
From having speed to develop and apply features, to a more personal connection to the user, to more freedom to run critical experiments; you can really scale much faster and adapt to challenges better than others. Use them and make the most out of your advantages.
(At the end of the day, I just like to keep an eye on the competitors but I don’t worry about them. I think a bit differently when it comes to competition. People say that having competition is great and that means there’s a market. Sure, that’s a good way to look at it. For me, I think competition sucks and you should do everything in your power to dominate your market. Be the unicorn and stand out from them. 🦄)
What You Can Do
Try to ask and gauge what their current fears are and address them. Your team should be all-in and fully believe that you are ready to accomplish your mission.
No hesitations, no trust issues, nothing that will hold back productivity and say no to anything that will slow you down.
Stop being paranoid. Reinforce your team and how they think. Stop fearing the wrong things. Find the advantages you have over those things and overcome the thoughts of fear.
As the founder, you need to be the backbone and you need to be able to turn their fears into strengths. Lead them.
Take the ball, focus at the task at hand and show no fear.
I’d love to know what was bothering or scaring you and your team and how you solved it.
Tell me about it in the comments or Snap me your story!