I’m struggling to compile a long comprehensive thread recently, so in the meanwhile, a few thoughts that ran through my head:
I. Politics and tech are two very different worlds. There’s not much linking the two together, but one can always learn and try to draw conclusions. The recent weeks and the unbelievable political turmoil got me thinking about an important lesson, that revolves around the value of self-testifying, future-oriented statements, or how we usually call them — promises.
No one believes politicians but for some reason, we keep listening and most of us care. Isn’t it odd that we keep getting upset when political promises are made broken even though we knew this is how the game is played? I think we hear promises as testifying to how people view the path they want to follow, where they want to go. A broken promise means we should be disappointed — not because the person in front of us lied, but because they didn’t get to where they said they’re going. If they would do more than initially stated, we wouldn’t get disappointed, right?
As an entrepreneur, you constantly have to make statements about your future status. Sales, fundraising, team, when’s the new website launching. It’s always good advice to stick to what you know and avoid guesses but it’s not easy. Furthermore, my experience says that the less experienced founders make far more promises.
What I want to convey is that founders should understand what those statements mean to the listener: it’s not that people think you know and it’s not that people have a false hope of you being right 100% of the time. It’s that people hear you estimate where you will be in a week/month/year and they are going to judge you based on that estimation.
If you voice an estimation, make sure you’re at least somewhat closer to the destination by the next time you meet your listener. If you talk to a potential customer about a feature, next meeting should show progress towards that feature. If you talk to investors about sales pipeline, next call should show pipeline progress.
II. I was driven out of my senses yesterday by a founder that wanted to take money from an angel investor (I’m being generous here) because “he likes us and he understands what we need”. Now, I’m a practical person and I always try to review opportunities by real-life measures. There’s little benefit for grand theories here — you can only play with the cards you’re dealt with. But not any offer is better than the status quo.
Consider carefully what you are committing to and what you are getting in return, and learn how to say no. In a startup, you should be selling 99% of the time. If you are being sold by an angel investor with questionable backgrounds, advisors, service providers, accelerators with no portfolio, turn around and run.
III. Another founder got me upset about not approaching his potential customers because they might like his idea and steal it. This utter nonsense might be worth a full separate post (if you’re interested — let me know), but just as a teaser: no one you should worry about needs your idea!!! There are 8 billion people in the world, someone thought of it first. Chillax. Those big companies have so much to do and digging into your unproven idea is at the absolute bottom of their priority.
That’s all nice and well but I would like to make the claim here that ideas still do matter. They matter a great deal and they matter even for the most experienced and capable founders. They matter because they are what gets you off the couch, what makes you sweat, and makes people follow you. The person listening to your idea does not have the same relationship with this idea, it’s not theirs. If this idea gets you up in the morning, act on it and do not fear exposing it to other people.