I spent some time counseling a startup founder this past week who drove 150 or so miles to hang out with me for a few hours – I’m quite thankful for that and I believe it was time well-spent for both of us, probably more for him than for me but I’m glad to have created so much value in such a short period of time. Spend it well my friend!
You know, it’s amazing how just a few pieces of information (not even showcased as “advice”) can change someone’s entire world from end-to-end. How many times has that happened in your life? I know that it’s happened in mine. A quick word of wisdom and the world tilts in my internal axis.
One thing I helped him do during our time together was craft a bit more of a compelling story around not only his product but his industry as a whole, which was email and email marketing. The industry is a tired one full of boring services and products and snake oil salesmen in 3 piece suits. Unfortunately, customers and consumers are just as bored and very tired of all the fluff and no fill.
So we decided to change that, allow the customer’s mind to imagine for a moment what it would be like to have a bit of excitement re-introduced. This is useful for not only the customer but also when he goes and raises more capital for continued survival.
One core idea though was the fact that he had to learn to pitch his concept like it was the end of the world. In other words, he had create such a compelling narrative that 10 out of 10 people would instinctively care.
Why? Because no one cares more than he does about his business. That’s the nature of startups and developing products. This is the nature of being an entrepreneur. Sometimes we forget that there is simply no one that gives more a shit than we do. Our goal is to present customers and investors with the opportunity to climb up that ladder and meet us there – if we’re lucky then they might even begin to care more than we do; now wouldn’t that be something?
You see, in the beginning, as a nobody, no one knows who you are and no one cares. Why then do you launch your business or attempt to advance yourself and your career? Because you do it for yourself. You find fulfillment, zest for life. You do it because you can do no other. You launch your startup and you begin because you care. Deeply, with everything that you are.
The caring landscape may change, slightly, at some point, but not much. When you’re a “somebody” then it may seem easier for “everyone” to care about who you are but there’s the catch: When “everybody” cares about who you are and what you do then the honest truth is that nobody really does.
You see, when you become mass appeal then you’re a commodity; they are interested because it fulfills something that they need. You’re a tool. A product. An expense. An outcome.
Which means you have to work even harder at caring more than everyone else and crafting your pitch and refining your story to an even sharper cut.
All in all the point is two-fold and somewhat paradoxical: The first is that you need to remember that if you can’t communicate how much you care about what you’re doing then no one will meet you there, or even half-way. The second is that you must, at the very same time, spend less time worrying about if people will care about you and what you do and more time just executing and creating value.
Create and communicate value and you’ll do just fine.