Start-ups are in the fast lane driving innovation. Why on earth would they need to slow down?Well, speed does not always equal getting faster at the destination. In their hurry they can simply forget to take the right turn. Or the navigation system can go bonkers and take start-ups to the wrong highway altogether.
'What' over 'why' and 'how' in start-ups
Most start-ups are so busy with the practical 'what' issues that the 'why' and 'how' tend to be completely overlooked. But it takes time and effort to define the why and the how well. Time most start-ups don't have. Or do not want to spend on this. However, defining a purpose (the start-up's why) and a shared set of values (the how) is not a luxury option. It is a necessity. It requires teamwork.
66% of start-ups fail due to team issues
Noam Wasserman, author of the book with the title: 'The Founder's Dilemma's: anticipating and avoiding the pitfalls that can sink a start-up', presents a shocking fact: two out of three start-ups fail. A staggering 66%. Not because they have a lousy product. But because of problems in the start-up team. Problems caused by different views which direction to take (read: not having a clear purpose). Problems due to not knowing what is the right decision to make when the going gets tough (read: not having clear and shared set of values).
Defining purpose (the why)
Slowing down to define purpose pays off because a well defined 'why' does 4 things for start-ups. Firstly, it gives direction. As simple as that. You might all still run around like crazy chickens but at least with the head still on, and in the same direction! Secondly a well defined purpose provides certainty. Exactly what you need in uncertain times. The red arrow of the compass always points to the true North, no matter how lost you are. Thirdly, it gives strength. A strong why is the reason you wake up every day and gets you into full throttle to get where you want to be. Every single day. One step at a time.
Last but not least a well defined why gives wisdom, whi
ch helps you to be both resilient and resourceful in challenging times.
Defining purpose is not rocket science. It could be simply that you wish to remove daily hassle that people experience when using technology. Or enhance people's quality of live through technology. You'll find that purpose will show subtle changes over time, although the essence remains. A purpose is therefore never done and needs refinement every now and then.
Knowing your values (the how)
Slowing down to define a shared set of values can be more tricky for the dominant tech wired brains that tend to make up start-ups. It's the fuzzy soft stuff which is believed to be important but maybe not urgent. The thing that coaches do. And that costs you a lot of money.
Ironically the 'what' becomes so much less challenging to execute if all members in start-ups are aligned with the collective purpose (the why) and values (the how). There are no shortcuts to this process unfortunately. Who remembers learning to drive a car seemed so difficult at the beginning?