As a startup founder, you must roll with the punches to be successful. No matter how well you plan, the industry has a way of throwing a jab or a hook when you’re not ready for it. In a sector that is subject to quickly changing conditions, newcomers, and surprises, everyone gets hit eventually.
The startup sector is a fiercely competitive arena. In the early days, it’s important to keep your eyes and ears open to see what your competition is doing. However, there is a difference between being aware and informed, and distracted.
Here’s what one of the oldest competition sports in the world can teach you about succeeding in the startup sector.
Don’t Lose Your Balance
In boxing, balance is nearly as important as strength and speed. Poor balance can make a mediocre punch devastating, whereas proper balance can have the opposite effect. In business, balance is about knowing your strengths and weaknesses, but also about not overextending yourself.
Young boxers often think the key to success is to rear back and throw a punch as fast and hard as they can. Likewise, startup founders may think their best option is to launch a full out assault on their industry. The result is that this can scatter your focus and attention in different directions.
The importance is focus. Don’t lose sight of what works and don’t try to spread yourself too thinly. It’s a good way to get caught off guard, and off balance.
Feel Out Your Customer First
Experienced boxers know that there is more to the sport than simply throwing a good punch. The early rounds of a boxing match are often marked by fewer devastating punches, and more of the opponents feeling each other out.
As a startup founder, it can also be helpful to feel out your customers. Whether it’s testing a customer acquisition channel, or a marketing campaign; testing the waters before opening your wallet is beneficial.
Take the time to A/B test a few different methods to see what works best. Once you see an opening, then it’s time to strike.
Winners are Rarely Made in the First Round
Boxing is a mental game as much as a physical one. As glamorous as a dominant performance is, few fights end in a first-round knockout. Business is much the same way, and it’s even more true when it comes to your startup.
Odds are, you aren’t well-financed, or well-staffed enough to land any devastating blows to the competition, so you’re best off not trying. Like a boxing match, there is strategy and adaption to be had in business. Spend your time learning your industry, as well as the competition.
Identify key strengths and weaknesses, both in your own organisation and in the competition. How can you improve? How can you exploit a competitor’s shortcomings? Identify opportunities and shore up your own vulnerabilities.
Business is more often a marathon and not a sprint. As you grow your company, nearly every condition you’re operating under is subject to change. As a startup founder, it’s important to adapt to these changes as they come.
One of the best parts about being a startup is that you’re able to make changes on the fly, far easier than your larger, corporate competitors. Early on, this is a strength of yours. Adapting to rapidly changing circumstances is a cornerstone of good management, and good boxing.