After 15 years of working with Disruptors, we’ve recognized that this class of entrepreneur is a little different than most. The dream is not to start a business because “I hate corporate life,” or “I want to do that, too”, but the dream begins with a founder who:
- Sees a giant opportunity
- Identifies a pervasive and painful problem
- Feels a deep, aching desire to change the world- or a corner of it- for the better
And so the journey begins...
Most Disruptors are guided by such an immense passion that they set out immediately to do it all on their own. They start to build a product from scratch, sometimes tapping years of experience to bring a new vision to light. Others reach out and begin building the dream team – A-players only – who will are willing not just to build the product and its infrastructure, but who share the common vision, are willing to put on the armor and fight the good fight for the long haul.
Inevitably, changing the world takes capital –lots of it. While most seek to bootstrap the effort at first, raising capital is critical to grow, scale and reach new corners of the market. It’s the lifeblood of a startup no matter how lean. It means the infusion of “smart money” to find talent, connections to first partners, customers, talent, and even more money later on. It also brings with it oversight, accountability, a board that must be answered to and the pressure to produce, perform and execute.
It’s time to suit up. The Disruptor’s competitive field is ever changing. It could be a host of startups striving for the same target market, outdated government regulations whose time for oblivion has come, or the massive Goliaths who need to be dismantled. Google fought the encyclopedia; Apple fought Microsoft; Airbnb fought everyone. The charge starts and ends with vision, passion and the ability to execute, day-in and day-out.
One thing we know for sure: you can’t do it alone. You build a team; you seek out advisors, you partner with people smarter than you to manage what you can’t. These are your CONNECTORS, and they fuel and grow the electric circuit you’ve built. Finding the right partners is critical, because the wrong ones will waste your time, money and your competitive edge.
Let’s call it what it is. Failure. It’s going to happen, so buckle up. Co-founders leave. Products fail. Customers rage. Trends die. Competitors occasionally win. Remember that these are battles, not the war. And the path to victory is not straight. Lick your wounds, reflect and learn the deep and ugly lessons. Then get up, get going and dig in.
Proof of concept? Check. Customers? Loyal and growing.
Revenue? Check. Now it’s time to push – past the silence, the naysayers and the ones who laugh at your big, “change the world” idealism. The Disruptor needs more than just revenue, infrastructure and direction. He needs advocates, influencers, loud and fanatical followers, and a community of people who are touched his innovation
At this point, you’re moving so fast it feels like your Disruptive machine is moving without you, and what you used to call a startup, is not. Hundreds of employees in multiple locations, and now new connectors are calling: acquirers, government officials, investment bankers talking about an IPO. You’ve done it – changed lives, changed businesses and happy customers. You’re hitting maximum velocity and global influence. Maybe this is your finish line, and you’re ready to step off the track.
Or maybe you’re just getting warmed up for your next finish line.
Keep Disrupting. Keep Connecting. Never Stop the Journey.