Fragility in the show-off world
Playing a show-off game often comes with short-term rewards (better press, easier fundraising), but in the long-term it draws attention away and puts artificial pressure on founders and their teams.
1. Being fragile makes you look weak
From Paul Graham:
Airbnb now seems like an unstoppable juggernaut, but early on it was so fragile that about 30 days (…) made the difference between success and failure.
Almost all startups are fragile initially.
And that's one of the biggest things inexperienced founders and investors get wrong about them. They unconsciously judge larval startups by the standards of established ones.
They're like someone looking at a newborn baby and concluding "there's no way this tiny creature could ever accomplish anything."
2. If so, are you allowed to lie?
You probably don’t call it ‘lying’, but founders have to will an unlikely future into existence. To build confidence in everyone around you - investors, customers, employees, partners - sometimes you have to paint a picture of how unstoppable you are.
3. Fake it till…
Here starts the actual founder’s dilemma as there are at least two ways to finish the sentence:
Fake it… till you make it (obviously)
Fake it… until (faking) works
What I think
"Fake it till you make it" isn't a poor strategy, as long as we focus 10x harder on the "make it" part rather than the "fake it".
Otherwise, it’s easy (and tempting, probably) to build your business around the wrong values. It puts artificial pressure on your team and draws attention away from what’s important - creating valuable products.
We live in a world that promotes power and extroversion. Hence, we need to put extra energy to meet the "world's success filters", especially if we are not naturally inclined that way.
Thanks for reading The Runway! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.