Get the newsletter · 2018 essays (PDF) · Featured · Recent

Career Suicide versus Startup Suicide

Starting a company and having a job are very different things. Committing career suicide versus startup suicide is one such example.

When you commit career suicide, it’s mostly because you do something that defies the norms. You treat a client in a way that they aren’t supposed to be treated. Or you surprise a colleague with bad news, delivered poorly. Or you can’t fit into a team during an important project. These are all examples where if you don’t conform to expected behavior, you’re screwed. Your peers judge you, and it becomes easy to be marginalized.

Startups, on the other hand, fail for the simple reason that most new businesses fail. This means that if you do everything like an average entrepreneur, make all your decisions within the boundaries of normal execution, you’ll probably end up making the decisions that bankrupt your company. That’s startup suicide right there. So in order to break out of that, instead the focus on doing a few things exceptionally well – far beyond the norms of the market – in order to succeed.

When companies are working well and can have a lot of employees, the focus is on operating the business. They just need to be doing the same thing, over and over, just better and more efficiently- the momentum is in your favor. On the other hand, when you have a new company, nothing is working at all. The momentum isn’t in your favor, and you need to do anything and everything to change your trajectory.

In one case, failure happens when you do something abnormal. In the other case, failure happens when you do everything just average. Just another example of the wicked problems you encounter as an entrepreneur.

PS. Get new updates/analysis on tech and startups

I write a high-quality, weekly newsletter covering what's happening in Silicon Valley, focused on startups, marketing, and mobile.