I have many conversations with founders that start with “I need…” “I need to raise money.” “I need to hire more people.” “I need to find some more customers.”
It is very easy to develop tunnel vision when building your company as you are tackling difficult problems everyday. Your world consists of aggressive (maybe impossible) goals, and you evaluate all the things you need to be able to achieve those goals. Those needs become your entire focus.
The problem with focusing on your needs is that no one else cares.
When prospective investors, employees, or customers look at your company, they do not care about your needs. Instead, they care about what you can do for them. Investors do not care that you need to raise money. They care about whether you can produce a return on their investment. Employees do not care that you need to hire more people. They care that you offer unique and valuable opportunities. Customers do not care that you need their business. They care about whether you help them solve a problem.
When you think about the world this way, you realize why many first time founders struggle. They focus too much on their needs and not on how to create enough value so that people will want to fulfill those needs.
Getting What You Need
In order to get what you need, you need to make the opportunity to give it to you such a great deal that no one would ever pass it by. So, if you need:
- To Raise Funding: Make your company an amazingly attractive investment. This should be a combination of traction, team, and vision (and perhaps revenue). Make the terms of investment friendly to both you and the investors, so they do not feel you are trying to take advantage of them.
- To Hire People: Make your company an amazingly attractive place to work. Empower new hires to learn and expand their roles by giving them the freedom to be creative, while holding the responsibility of delivering important parts of your strategy. Hire for passion as much as skills.
- To Sell Customers: Make your product an amazingly attractive solution to a problem they have. Not only should your product be easy to use, but it should be easy to get and set up. Lastly, your product should be fairly priced to make it a clear decision for the customer.
Remember, when an investor, candidate, or customer is considering whether or not to choose your company, they are not deciding if you are a good company. They are deciding if you are better than the hundreds (or thousands) of other companies in the market, some of which may be in entirely different industries or businesses. You are competing with everyone to stand out, not just yourself.
So, next time you find yourself saying, “I need” try to rephrase it as, “Here is what I can offer”. It will greatly improve the chances of getting what you want.
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need
– The Rolling Stones
Image credit: CC by kmstonge