Startups often take pride in being startups. They often believe that their never-before-seen idea will change the world, but fail to check in with the business basics. As someone once said, startups are immature companies confused about what is is they’re selling and who they’re selling to.
Don’t get me wrong, some startups are literally game-changing. Google and Facebook were once garage projects, driven by crazy, enthusiastic people who didn’t think about how to sell stuff – their only concern was building something that people desired.
However, most people who call themselves founders aren’t really like that. Most people who run startups are ego-fueled self-centric princesses who think just because their idea is unique, the entire world should give a shit.
Let me make a few arguments so I don’t sound unreasonable.
1. Most startups are chasing funding, not changing the world
Most startupers, and I’ve met quite a few in my lifetime, think of their genius idea not as something that could truly change how we live, but as something that’s designed to attract venture capital money. Most of them have this wet dream of making a big IPO or getting a big round of funding and writing themselves a big fat check. Then sell the whole thing and live as a millionaire for the rest of their days.
I won’t even talk how unrealistic such a scenario is. Less than 1% of startups ever see VC money, and how only about 1 out of 10 funded businesses generate adequate returns.
I will, however, mention, that chasing VC money usually means that entrepreneurs spend way more time on figuring out how to sell their idea to the investors rather than how to sell their product to the consumers, which isn’t really good for anyone.
2. Most startups don’t prioritize sales
Many startups I’ve encountered truly are based on amazing ideas. However, they often get so caught up with their own awesomeness, they forget why people should give a crap.
I’m a die-hard salesman, and I believe that any business should primarily focused on sales, in one form or another. Not product development. Not perfecting your technology. Sales. ‘Cause if you’re not generating new customers, it doesn’t matter how amazing your product is – you’ll be dead in the water before the world even gets to see it.
In most startups, this is felt throughout all layers of organizational structure. The leaders can’t say why people should buy their product, which often makes marketers struggle with the sales pitch.
A piece of advice – many startups are based on ideas that sell themselves. It’s not shoes you’re trying to push, it’s something new, something the world has never seen before. Use that fact to draw attention and show people how you can improve people’s lives in a way they didn’t know was even possible.
3. Most startups try to run before they can walk
If there’s one thing that’s true in life and especially business, is that shortcuts are a myth, and some startups tend to forget that fact (or straight up deny it.)
There’s nothing wrong with aiming big, but you can’t hope to conquer the world’s markets if you can’t sell your product in your local town. Wanting all of it immediately is what causes many founders to fail, and sink their ships with them.
Best businesses are built slowly – not in a sense of time, but in a sense of mentality. They’re built with a tremendous amount of user testing and feedback. Empires are built by listening to your customers, and making changes every single day.