The Days of the Single-Focus Startup Are Ending
Why “Do one thing very well” has always been short-sighted advice
In this week’s issue of Teaching Startup (#74), we took a poll asking our member entrepreneurs how “big” they intended their startup to be. We didn’t ask them about how many hundreds of employees or thousands of customers or millions in revenue or billions in valuation. That’s not our vibe.
Instead, we asked them to look at their startup from a much more important angle: Scope.
What we learned and shared with our members is more anecdotal evidence that reinforces a warning I’ve been giving for over a decade.
The advice given to entrepreneurs along the lines of “Do one thing very well” is dangerously short-sighted. And in some cases, that advice can set up a startup for eventual failure.
Startups come in all shapes and sizes with various goals and targets
Every startup is different. This is one of core philosophies that Teaching Startup is built on, and it’s behind everything we do, including answers to questions and advice to entrepreneurs.
Just because one startup finds success doing one thing one way doesn’t mean the next startup can come along and do the same thing the same way and find the same success. In fact, in most cases, it works the opposite way.
If an entrepreneur finds massive success using strategy A, product B, market C, and execution plan D — it’s likely that they will “own” that combination and emerge as the “winner.” That’s their world now, and everyone else is playing catch-up.
Now, can an entrepreneur mix-and-match? For example, copy another startup’s strategy, target market, and execution plan, but with product E instead of product B? Of course. But product E better be the thing that the startup is far-and-away better than anyone else at producing.
In fact, it’s almost always a better idea to go with strategy X, product Y, market Z, and execution plan AA, with all of those elements tailored specifically to the founder’s vision, the talent’s skills, the company’s strengths, and the product’s inherent value. Not carbon copies of other things that…