Confusing Movement with Progression as an Entrepreneur
There’s one thing that I’ve come to realize, and that is there is a moment where you enter a realm of delusion with your start-up or project. When you begin a new endeavour, there is a wave of excitement and optimism of what this project could become. You begin thinking of how you are going to takeover the market and become successful with it.
For all intensive purposes, I will stick to building a start-up. The idea of creating a start-up is so enticing. I realized that the era that we live in and as entrepreneurs, we romanticize the idea of being an entrepreneur. We see all the successful individuals, what they are doing and how they are thriving – nothing seems to be stopping them on their rise. You see their articles on TechCrunch or some big blog, the big round they just raised, the feature lists such as “30 under 30,” or it could be that video of someone giving a talk at some conference.
It becomes a race to be achieve these accolades to get that validation from the community without really doing much. You forget the reason you started was to provide value towards a specific community or market. On the hunt to get these accolades, it becomes a façade that you are progressing. You raise the round, you get the funding, you get that feature, it becomes a hunt to get this euphoria time and time again. But the actual business isn’t moving up. It’s not selling product, its not achieving product market fit or customer market fit.
This can be perceived as movement, but it’s lateral movement. Real movement is vertical. It’s progressive towards the end goal and that is providing value for your customer. It’s achieving sales targets and creating a product that is 10x compared to your competitors. This is where the real game is and is the barometer of true business success.
There a few things where lateral movement can be a victim of certain factors: That is team, focus, product, and market. Once you take control of these 4 things, you are on your way towards verticality.
Start-ups are extremely hard and competitive. When you begin, you almost always start as a solo founder. You are the anchor for the whole project and the captain who leads everything forward. Without a team, it becomes hard to make progress. Finding people who are living and breathing the same passion of yours can become a challenge. Having a good team where you are not doing things on your own will allow you to get more things accomplished and move towards an upward projection.
When you focus and remove the distractions, you are one step closer towards building a progressive business. Focusing first begins with the need to let go for entrepreneurial validation & laser in on your product, and your customer. It’s removing all the extra fat and layers that cloud your vision and thinking. Keeping your thinking lean and towards your goal will take you towards the gradual steps for business traction.
I’ve found as an entrepreneur, you LOVE your product. It’s your baby and your brain child. You conceived it and you’ve brought it to life. The idea of moving away from it is difficult. You feel as if all the hard work you have put in is about to go to waste. You hang on and hang on to this product that sometimes just leads to a dead end. Once you step back and look at what you are doing, you can asses your sales and customer feedback. You can make the necessary transition to make the product hot and in demand. If you stay busy with the product and not productive, you will forever stay in the purgatory of “The Lateral.”
The market you are targeting is a cause for lateral movement. As entrepreneurs, we sometimes force a product towards a market that isn’t big enough, has no desire to use the product, and simply has no incentive to make that behavioural switch to use yours. When you monitor and keep a good pulse on the market you are serving, you can quickly adapt to their needs. Pushing your service or product when its not there and making one or two sales transaction over a period of time can give you the false sense of progression. Switching markets, and segments can be painful but is one way towards verticality towards a profitable & sustainable business.
Moving vertically requires a laser sharp focus and different parts moving in harmony in your organization. Don't confuse movement with progression.