You’re in a start-up, and you’re about to start competing against some giant company. As an entrepreneur, you know the drill. It’s you against Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos or Michael Dell or Howard Schultz, or even a two-headed monster like Sergey & Larry.
Let’s face it–the cards are totally stacked against you. They have SO much in their favor. They have:
- More Brains
- Better Technology
- An Army of Employees
- Buckets of $
- Huge Credibility with the Press
- Lots of Customers
They can outprice you and outlast you in any market they choose.
As entrepreneurs, why do we choose to fight this kind of battle? I’m prepping for a presentation I’m giving tonight at the University of Wisconsin and I asked myself that question. How can a start-up ever carve out a space, let alone win the game? Brian and I have had a few successful start-up’s (Brian has 3 to his name, and I’m working on my 3rd with him right now). Thinking about our experiences, I was able to come up with the ONLY three things that you have going for you as a start-up.
(1) Speed & Agility. Big companies can’t move as fast as you can. This is by far the most important advantage for a start-up. You may have a great idea, but I’ll bet that the same idea is kicking around the big company competitor too. The issue for them is that they have a huge organization to drag behind them. They can’t turn on a dime. You can. You can get there first. And getting there first is huge. Jellyfish is a great example of this. We hit upon a new, disruptive search advertising model and got to market with it first. Microsoft saw our head-start and liked it. If we had waited, taken too much time, over analyzed, we would have lost. In a start-up, lack of speed kills.
(2) No History. What I mean by this is that in a start-up have no baggage, nothing to protect. In a start-up, you can dream up crazy ideas, without any regard to protecting the company’s revenues/ employees/customers, or upsetting the politics of the organization. You are free to think of the way things should be if you could design the perfect world. You have freedom to try to disrupt the status quo. Most big companies worry what will happen if the status quo changes. They worry about protecting next quarter’s number. They worry about getting stuff through legal. You are completely untethered from these kinds of restrictions.
(3) A Different Kind of Employee. There are lots of really, really smart people that work for big organizations. But there is something that brings the best out of people when they work in a start-up. The start-up environment is so empowering and invigorating when you realize that you have a HUGE impact on the success or failure of your company. It’s on you. You have the power to change a market, and you get caught up in the journey and the mission. I’ve seen the power of a small committed team of start-up employees, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have a business partner that does a tremendous job of cultivating and leading the charge. Small start-up teams can accomplish amazing things.
So there they are entrepreneuers. Your 3 advantages. Use them wisely.
And if you were planning on coming to my talk tonight, I just gave away my best stuff, so you can probably just stay home