1/14: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but in the #startup world, if it doesn’t feel like you’re constantly running then your business is probably about to die. The same is true at highly successful bigger companies. Let’s start with an analogy:
2/14: Every morning in Africa, an antelope wakes up and knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Those same mornings, a lion wakes up and knows it must outrun the slowest antelope or it will starve to death.
3/14: In the wild, staying still results in death by starvation or death by becoming dinner du jour. In the business world, death comes from being a “lazy lion” or a “slow antelope”.
4/14: A lion is usually an established dominant company in its ecosystem. Starvation results from being a “lazy lion”. By not aggressively stalking, chasing and killing antelopes a lazy lion enters a slow and gradual downwards spiral.
5/14: The lazy lion watches the activity in the #startup community but always has a reason not to take action. The lazy lion is overconfident in its current business model and brags to anyone who will listen about its last innovation.
6/14: The lazy lion only hunts when it’s already starving and by then it might be too late. Figuring out how to correct a downward spiral can take time and money as well as good ideas and talented people to execute. It's not guaranteed all the pieces can be assembled.
7/14: Switching from "starving lazy lion mode" to "lightning fast lion mode" in order to take down an antelope isn’t easy to do. Hunting skills atrophy. Other lions might have already taken down the slow antelopes. And the antelopes might have run out of reach.
8/14: An antelope is usually a #startup trying to take on everyone in its ecosystem. Being a “slow antelope” is paramount to death. While all startups are fast, remember that all antelopes are fast and every day some of them die.
9/14: The slow antelope ships code, but not as fast as other startups in its space. The slow antelope grows, but not as quickly as other startups in its space. The slow antelope learns, but not as quickly as other startups in its space.
10/14: The belief that all antelopes can outrun all lions is flat out false. Some large companies are very nimble and employ loads of smart people. All it takes is one hungry lion spotting your business and concluding “I can do that” to put everything you’ve built at risk.
11/14: While the analogy describes what it takes to win in a Darwinian market that’s constantly evolving, it doesn’t mean Leaders should use this as an excuse to burn out their people.
12/14: There are times when sprinting is essential but building a business is an endless marathon if you want your business to stand the test of time. Sprinting wears out a team and makes them slower later.
13/14: When a lion is about to eat you or you’ve fallen to the back of the pack of antelopes you have to sprint but otherwise you have to run “fast enough”. Knowing when to sprint is a critical leadership skill that many startup CEOs haven’t mastered.