The Don’t Screw Up Approach to Startup Success (Absolutely Toxic Say Experts)

Don’t let your dinosaur brain set your startup attitude.

Startups are scary; we all know that by now. The unknown has a tendency to overwhelm even the best founders. Hundreds of mini-decisions sometimes made daily and then accrue to thousands over weeks or months accelerate the building of a decision methodology. And I have not even mentioned the big hairy decisions you have to make

One approach I see creep into even the best entrepreneurs is an approach to “avoid mistakes or failure”. Let’s be clear, I am not advocating that we try and fail or make mistakes. The real issue is that in many cases, nobody knows it is a mistake until months or even years later.

If you are a new leader and you approach every decision with an attitude of mistake avoidance you will miss the potential magic you are searching for as a startup. Albert Einstein, noted physicist and Nobel Laureate said it best; “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

Isn’t your startup idea based on the principal of creating something new?

Instead of being guided by the fear of failure or mistakes, why not be guided by what you want, rather than by what you want to avoid.

Maybe a subtle and simple change of focus in our decision-making can unleash the company/product success you dream of. To accomplish this try these thoughts:

  • start with the idea that there are no wrong decisions, only experiments that confirm or deny a thesis
  • when confronted with too many outcomes, try to remove and/or whittle those potential outcomes down by socializing your concerns with others
  • focus your and your team on what you want to happen (glass completely full) instead of what could happen (glass half empty)
  • orient you and the team around data gathering exercises that inform decisions instead of relying on gut instincts or the most powerful voice in the room.

How you wake up in the morning and attack your day has an impact on everything including decision-making. Don’t get caught up in mistake avoidance, unleash the beast within!

Speaker, investor, mentor, startup founder. One of 3 or 4 Co-Founders of MapQuest (sold to AOL for $1.2B). Managing Director of $25M Venture Fund in late 90's. CEO, COO or President of various companies ranging from $200k to $20M in size. One of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory (35 investments across 7 cohorts), founder and MC of the Big Top Reverse Job Fair and national writer and speaker waxing poetic around startups and startup communities. Currently EIR @ Techstars with Brad Feld ~ Startup Communities, to help community leaders around the world grow their startup community.

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