Entrepreneurs have a higher risk tolerance than most. It’s one of the many reasons we love working with them. And yet, ironically, time and again, we see startups that are “playing it safe”.
As flawed as it is, we understand the rationale. The goal of all startups is to scale as big and as fast as possible. A.k.a. the ol’ hockey stick (and we‘re not talking Gretzky).
So, the natural inclination would be to cast as wide a net as possible, sand down the edges and scale things back a bit to avoid potentially turning anyone off. Safe: yes. Effective: hell to the no.
You see, that approach is recipe for failure. It might not be a quick death, but it’ll be a death nonetheless. The reason is because while you may not turn any people off, it’s not going to turn any on either. The best you can hope to achieve is creating something that’s very good in people’s minds. The problem with that is:
The marketplace is filled with very good. Very good is boring. It’s not worth seeking out, sharing or talking about.
It’s those 3 things that are the key to the hockey stick. The way to achieve them is to convert your audience into users and your users into believers (like obsessed Apple fanboys), one person at a time.
You do this by taking risks, being bold and being authentically and unapologetically unique. Will you be the worst in some people’s eyes? 100. Might some people loathe your existence? Could be.
But here’s the thing: you’ll be spectacular in other people’s eyes. They’ll identify with you and your story will become part of their own (sh*t, they might even get a tattoo of your logo). They’ll also sing your praises, telling everyone just how great you are. And when their friends do the same, the viral cycle is complete and that hockey stick is in range.
The truth is, literally everything is a risk. The question you have to ask yourself is, would you rather risk being remarkable or invisible?