Startups don’t starve, they drown
This powerful quote, attributed to many authors and mentioned often, still conceals several different meanings.
Say it again
Startups don’t starve,
The most fascinating part of starting a startup company is full autonomy. It’s you who set the direction, builds a strategy, designs a product, hires a team, etc.
Every decision carries some risk, but it's up to you to determine its acceptable level. One looks for extremely fast growth, while the other prefers climbing up at a steady pace. Again, it’s you who makes that call.
Before we dive deeper, it will be helpful to look through some surveys researching the top reasons for startups’ failure. These studies are usually superficial but for our discussion, they will work. Take any random paper and you will find out that “running out of cash” is a dominant cause of a reported startup failure.
Does “running out of cash” sound like ‘starvation’?
No, and that’s the point.
It means you’re
Lack of cash is the result, not the reason for the crash.
One key rationale for why startups fail is the lack of balance between two critical input forces: (1) resources and (2) their dedication to the company's core values.
As a result, a startup faces an imbalance in its output metrics - (a) the burn rate and (b) revenue, being far from intersecting.
And that's what
So, where the idea of ‘starving’ comes from? In my essay “Focus or die” I described the three battles that every founder must fight to stay focused. The bottom line is that we are creative people, brave to try new things, love creation, etc. By nature, we are prone to distraction.
“Focus matters more than hard work”
Focus will not guarantee success but it’s a powerful strategy to increase any venture’s odds.
Focus brings balance to your resource allocation.
If you have one core value to work on and one bet you want to win, it doesn't matter if you're a 1-person company or a team of 1000. Allocating 100% of your resources to win the bet maximizes your chances.
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What others think
Focus means saying ‘no’ to the hundreds good ideas. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done. It’s about saying 'no' to 1000 things. You have to pick carefully.
- Steve Jobs