This week I had the pleasure of hearing Dave Gray, CEO of Daxko, speak on Mission, Values, and Vision. He came packed with a lot of great information, but one statement he quoted that really struck me was, "Startups don't starve, they drown."
Suggesting that startups don't run out of ideas or resources, but they drown in them. They either try to be all things to all people or get stuck in paralysis by analysis. In project management, it's called “Scope Creep.” I see this happening in my own startup and realize how easy it is for startups to lose focus. This quote made me stop and think about what the role of a leader in a startup should really be.
Leaders in startups, any business for that matter, are not just visionaries, cheerleaders, etc., but also have the added role of being "Idea Killer." I know this sounds counter-intuitive, especially for innovative companies, but the leader has to focus the team and know when to say stop.
Getting off the ground is one of the hardest things for a business to do. According to the SBA, 33% of businesses will fail in the first two years, and 50% will fail in the first five years. It is the leader’s role to determine whether the ideas being generated focus on the problem they are solving, are in line with their mission, are executable for their team, and can be repeated/scaled. If the idea doesn't meet all these criteria, then the idea should be killed. Startups that love their problem and keep their focus will increase their chances for success.
The leader’s team may dislike them killing their ideas, but it could be the very thing that helps lead them to success!