‘It isn’t the mountain ahead to climb that wear you out; it is the pebble in your shoe’
Have you ever witnessed a welding process?
A picture of penetrative glaring iridescent light will materialize in our thoughts.
Welder’s flash, an irritation of the cornea, is caused by ultraviolet radiation from the arc during welding. The willing victim is habitually oblivious that he has been significantly wide-open to a likely damage until several hours later.
Same is with Startups. If there’s anything that can drown a venture, it is the founder’s passion. The golden rule that “chasing your passion indemnities success”, is almost like nursing a gritty arc-eye. Passion alone isn’t enough to craft your success map, because in any Startup, success is achieved by programed actions and hard work of entire team. Founder’s passion, the most indispensable prerequisite, may turned out to be a crucial cause of an adverse impairment.
We are in very exiting times for entrepreneurial ventures. Until very recently, there has never been so many role models for “24/7 Plugged-in Young Minds” ever before. Success stories are frolicked at every corner. Confident and ambitious young minds are no more afraid to question conventional epitomes for pursuing a meaningful challenge in life. Yet, many Startups have evaporated within first few years of the launch. Why?
There could be multiple reasons for that. Nevertheless, one such harshly evident spoiler is founder’s mental predisposition.
Fortunately, during the passage of my consulting career, I have associated with few much stressed Startups. Here, I have tried to decode certain emblematic predispositions of few Startup founders, which have eluded them from the worthy success.
- Even with an incredibly awesome idea, launching a Startup is very demanding. Particularly, when a founder is having very little prior experience of the money-making world. Risk taking is inevitable. At times, even crazy ones. Yet, it is that ‘Great Idea’ which electrifies a founder to create and build a thriving business. Riding on rock-solid conviction, courage, and that one big inimitable business idea, a founder securely spreads his wings. But, to disentangle that dream, it is essential to have a tangible unpretentious solid business plan with measurable milestones.
- There is an elusive difference between an idea and an opportunity. All ideas do not have an inherent potential to be a great business prospect. Startup founders must learn to balance between a “restless creative child within” and a “realist adult on the ground”. Subconsciously, sewed-up with his own idea, a founder has a tendency to lose the true perspective. Few are unpardonably obstructive even in authenticating the idea before and during development cycle. Whereas, they need to equipoise a reinforcing sequence between pragmatism and innovative appetite.
- A business may disintegrate, but an entrepreneur will never crumble. The most overbearing quality of a successful founder is the ‘never-say-die’ attitude even when things don’t work according to plan. Giving up is a luxury that no Startup can afford. At the same time, quality of courage does not mandate a founder to be fascinated by alluring but unjustified risks. Though, successful and confident founders will never easily lose sight of the realities.
- A Startup founder would like to challenge all the odds by smearing his focus and energy on the opportunities. Yet, doing a business means taking calculated risks, not being impulsive or speculative. The risk has to be palatable. There are examples of entrepreneurs, who behaved like an over confident gambler, and damaged their prospects for ever. Deliberately creating an unprovoked risk on the hope of gains is the first step towards failure. Often, in such situations, the seductive greed for immediate returns tends to outrank a long term vision.
- Startup founders are often fragile on strategy and execution. When a Startup founder decides to make a big bet that consumes large resources, he inclines to contemplate only about the “huge numbers” as profits, rather than investing time on execution and “go-to-market” strategy. For any successful business, risk needs to be judicious. Starting a business is often an easy task, the challenge is in sustaining and surviving.
- The successful entrepreneurs do take quick decisions in the interest of business. It is very natural. There is no room for lingering on options. However, there is a fine line between taking ‘quick’ decision and ‘hasty’ decision or “reactive” decision. Rushed and reactive decisions do not reflect a well thought response. Such episodic and mercurial decisions are destined to be the major road blocks in future.
- For any Startup, teaming is an unbelievably common problem that causes a Startup to bomb. Ask any investor, his final investment call is predominantly influenced by the strength of the founding team. Some founders just can’t get along with strong teams. Sometimes, the problem is more subtle. A founder will assemble a weedy team below him and end up designing a crumbly organization. Ultimately, entire team falls apart with single jolt of first failure. For identification of the founding team, one has to be cold-blooded. One wrong addition can derail the entire team.
- Trust is fundamental to a successful team. Nevertheless, trust is a complex issue with many Startup entrepreneurs. They withhold trust until they are absolutely sure the person deserves it. Unrealistic, unexpressed, and imprecise expectations are a primary cause for low trust in their relationships. Somewhere, deep inside they are trapped in a “victim’s mind-set”; hence they are bit shaky about the intentions of the people around them. They are incapable of giving “complete charge” of any assignment to their key players. For them, it is like a jugglery of “plug and play”. Somehow, giving up control becomes a constant struggle for them. However, to cultivate a successfully thriving Startup, an entrepreneur must trust the talent and attributes of his founding team.
- The success mantra for a Startup is in multi-tasking and organisational skills. Often, a founder believes that the venture is running only because of him. He is the only decisive element in the realization of the business. He, psychologically, starts competing with other team members. Regrettably, such defiance also puts a ceiling to the future growth. One cannot build entire organization on his shoulders. A Startup needs a robust multifaceted team of experts to take business forward. The very incongruity of mutual expectation, seeds conflicts. A founder should give more than enough space to his team members. An empowered space to the founding team is critical for learning and coming up to the speed in their own way. All potentially successful Startup founders invest sensible time in building an “engaged team” to fine-shape their ventures.
- There is no reason for a fonder to believe that his approach is always right. However, few have very little endurance for creative alternatives. They do things their way. They turn out to be very poor listeners with very little respect for others’ assessments. One must have the innate conviction that every individual has his strengths and limitations. Playing to the strengths of individuals and complementing their inadequacies with a support system will only lead to a lasting growth. Learning is eternal. A successful founder is humble and flexible enough to embrace any productive challenge without qualms.
- The “possessive passion to succeed” makes a founder highly temperamental. There is nothing wrong in craving for perfection. However, being obstinate about perfection does not promise excellence. Unexpectedly, the basic sensitivity towards human dignity is not a preferred asset even in many evolved Startups.Escalated emotional outburst during meetings is quite a routine feature. Any open constructive dissent, which is so vital for the growth and sustainability of a Startup, gets miscomprehended as disparagement and viewed with suspicion.
- Celebrating small wins and planed leisure breaks are must. Working long days and working on weekends or on a pre-declared holiday is typical of many successful ventures. Failing to recognize each other’s personal commitments and obligations is suicidal for a cohesive team. Furthermore, a sadistic tendency to quantify the commitment level of a team by accounting “how much personal time one has surrendered”, is an archetypal trait of few Startup founders. Eventually, such indirect impositions will incubate negativity and derelictions in the system.
Inner-transformation of any Startup team demands innovative reinforcements, attitudes, values, and internalizing new capabilities. Startups that can embrace the dynamic mode of internal networking and co-creation will certainly excel …much beyond just surviving the impending uncertainties.
Thoughtfulness towards people is the first low-hanging fruit for any Startup…!