How Your Startup Can Find Opportunity Where You Least Expect It
This week, I answered a question about sales contracts, asked by an entrepreneur who apologized in advance for the boring nature of her question. She also made it clear that she was not looking for legal advice or definitions of terms, but rather how to use elements of the contract itself to optimize opportunity and maximize her profit.
Impressive. This is actually next level entrepreneurial thinking — to look at what’s essentially a rubber-stamp process and try to find a competitive edge.
I gave her what I believe to be a solid answer — where to add flexibility and how to avoid most of the pitfalls you can run into when contracting with a large customer who employs an army of lawyers — as well as how to engage with an attorney of her own without spending a fortune.
But that boring answer got me thinking about some of the other boring areas that we entrepreneurs tend to overlook and rush through.
Why do we tend to gloss over the opportunities hidden in the mundane? I’ve got some insight, culled from the last 20 years of turning over a lot of stones to find every entrepreneurial edge.
Why entrepreneurs skip the boring stuff
One simple reason is that the tasks themselves are usually not in our area of expertise, and thus we feel like we’re not adding any value. I mean, we can read the same sentence of a contract a dozen times and not really understand what it means. And since it’s painful to do that, it’s easy to half-ass it. How bad could the blowback be if we miss something? Certainly no more painful than reading the same sentence a 13th time.
But the more challenging reason is that those kinds of tasks, like contract creation, usually come up in areas where the startup is playing from behind — where we’re not in a position of power. We need the customer’s business. Thus, they’re in control, and we feel like we have no choice but to trust their process.
Combine these two reasons and what you end up with is loss prevention — we’re not playing to win, we’re playing not to lose.