Michael Dearing, a venture capitalist, has developed strong views on the similarities of innovators after screening over three thousand founders and funding over sixty companies since 2006. Dearing observed that the most successful founders are prone to certain “cognitive distortions”: biased, even objectively inaccurate, ways they think of themselves and filter information that enable them to make quicker and better decisions, bounce back from setbacks, and attract talent.
I admit that I’m of the particular mindset of looking out into the world and find flaws— glitches in the system— and construct logical paths in my mind to fix them.
And, if I can start crafting a solution with a blank slate the better. Who doesn’t like thinking about what’s possible!
But, are all problems worth fixing?…
One of the hardest things to do when defining what your business does is explaining it in the simplest of terms; the key challenge is distinguishing between features and benefits. The reason that this is so vitally important is that, in the words of User Onboarding: “People don’t buy products; they buy better versions of themselves.”…
What do high-flying startups know about growth that others don’t?
According to new research on startup growth, there are ten things high-flying startups do differently to grow quickly. One of them, and it isn’t a surprise, is they change the game by playing by a different set of rules:
None of these breakout companies did it the same way that the incumbents grew in their vertical or type of business. They all picked their own path, often leaving people wondering what they were thinking. HubSpot charged for upfront onboarding, which people thought was a mistake. Turns out it’s a huge piece of their massive retention success.
Yelp stayed away from paying for reviews and wooing food critics, instead focusing 100% on the community above all else. In a landscape where Citysearch and other behemoths catered to businesses and paid for reviews, this seemed almost foolish at the time.
Pretty straightforward, but unfortunately “changing the game” is still very much an anomaly. Why? Because herd mentality is the default setting for most.
One point I strongly make to startups is they need to have a point of view, a set of opinions about what they do; what are they about. Frankly, this is very much a maverick approach to strategy, one where you want to be the only one who does what you do and thus make competition irrelevant.
Good strategy is about making decisions, about choosing WHAT NOT TO DO as much as WHAT TO DO. Making this decision is critical for high-growth startups, and for yours too.
Bottom line: If you mimic the herd, you’ll regress to the mean. Aim to be the only one, not just another one.
Yesterday, I was a judge for a showcase of projects from marketing students of a local university. Most of the projects that were pitched are apps that exist elsewhere in some form; nothing game-changing. There were many common innovation myths that were present in many of the pitches, such as “our competitive advantage is being the first ones in Mexico”, “our competitive advantage is there isn’t something like this anywhere”, “our competitive advantage is we have no competition”. …