The ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’ + The ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ = Winning

These days, its cute to announce that you are launching a startup. It’s almost like a 12 year old girl and her little brother starting a lemonade stand to guilt trip their neighbors into giving them 50 cents on a hot summer day.

Ohhh, how cute… Another startup launching a photo sharing app, a food delivery app, a group chatting app, a “uber” for pets app…

No matter what your startup is, there is somebody out there doing the same thing right now.

More people are starting businesses today than in any other moment in modern history.

What you need to differentiate yourself is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal that no one else could imagine, and none of your competitors could ever achieve.

If you haven’t studied the idea of setting a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, then you should read this quick summary on Wikipedia.

In short, I propose that startups going after an idea in a crowded market use the idea of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal to discover their Unique Selling Proposition.

In order to do this, your Big Hairy Audacious Goal cannot be something generic like getting to 100 million users. Who cares….

It must be something that is not only big, but something that uniquely defines why the existence of your startup will change the world as we know it.

Once you combine your Unique Selling Proposition with your Big Hairy Audacious Goal, then come up with a step by step process to go after it.

No joke.

Set a goal to change the world, create a plan to do it, then do it.

Are Younger Entrepreneurs Better? I THINK NOT!

Thomas Edison didn't become a successful entrepreneur until his 40s
Thomas Edison didn’t become a successful entrepreneur until his mid 40s

There is a common perception that once an entrepreneur turns 30, he or she is over the hill.  Even worse, the prevailing thought is if you haven’t hit an entrepreneurial home run by age 30, your chances of ever hitting a home run are next to nill.

It turns out that these beliefs are just plain false.  

Adeo Ressi, the founder of The Founder Institute, has done personality and aptitude tests on over 3,000 potential entrepreneurs worldwide to draw conclusions on the question: Are younger entrepreneurs better?

Ressi states the following regarding the age myth:

The research shows that an older age is actually a better predictor of entrepreneurial success.

Ressi then goes on to conclude the following:

Age is only one factor among many to predict the success of entrepreneurs, and anybody at any age can break any molds put forward by “experts.” However, it’s clear that the stories of a few “college-dropout turned millionaire” (or billionaire) startup founders have clouded both the mass media and the tech industry from reality. We have romanticized the idea of a young founder because, well, it’s a great story, but these stories are not the norm. In the end, classic biases of gender, race, and age need to be discarded for a real science of success.

To get the background on Ressi’s methodology for these conclusions you should read this blog post he wrote on TechCrunch.

Blocking and Tackling: The only Football Metaphor that Matters for Startups

You may or may not be familiar with American football.  For me, it is as much as part of my life as entrepreneurship, so let’s start with the basics.

Blocking and Tackling 

Any championship football team excels at these two things.   Blocking is what you need to win on offense, and tackling is what you need to win on defense.  When it comes to winning championships, blocking and tackling are the fundamentals that separate good from great.

Entrepreneurship Ideas vs. Execution

In American Football, everybody copies each other offensive and defensive scheme if it is the hot thing working around the league.

Whether it’s the Wildcat, Spread, No Huddle, Zone Read, and the West Coast on offense, or the 4-6, Wide 9, Tampa 2 or Zone Blitz on defense.

If it works, your competition will copy it.

The same goes with startup ideas.  Your competition will copy your idea if you prove it works.

Execution is about blocking and tackling. Execution can’t be copied.

Execution is the fundamentals. Ideas come and go. You don’t win with ideas, you win with execution. What is the equivalent of blocking and tackling for a startup? Sales and customer service!

So there is the answer to the age old startup question.  How do I execute on my business idea?  Execution is about your ability to sell your product and deliver world class customer service.

Be good at those two things, and you have a better than average chance of winning. Be great at those two things, and you will win.

On the other hand, get those two things wrong and you have no chance at all.