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Start-Ups: 5 Fears to Overcome (part 1)

In the 3 main battles that start-ups have to wage to 1) survive, 2) avoid stagnation and 3) complexity (keep it simple), certain very natural fears appear and can affect the behavior of business leaders.

During my visit to INBOUND 2019, I had the chance to attend a very interesting talk by Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot. With a lot of humor and a style all his own, he demonstrated that the most common fears among start-ups are sometimes misguided.

It is important to know that, in life as in business, all fears are not bad, on the contrary! However, we must choose the fears that deserve our attention in order to overcome them.

According to Dharmesh Shah, the 5 fears that start-ups would benefit from overcoming and redirecting are the fear of commitment, of difference, of change, the prospect of disappointing as well as inferiority. Let's take a look at the first two.

1.The Fear of Commitment

When you tend to get fully involved in the things you are committed to, it is normal to hesitate before taking the leap. Since a commitment is a long-term decision, it can be tempting to compromise and try several avenues at once, out of “caution”. But half measures lead to half results.

When it comes to officially choosing who your business addresses, you have to make a decision, a commitment. You do NOT want to go all over the place and target the "general public" since it is impossible to please everyone. You must therefore choose a target audience large enough to allow your business to grow, but small enough for you to be able to delight this clientele.

According to Dharmesh, the lack of satisfied customers may not be the fastest way to kill growth, but it is definitely the most reliable. To satisfy your customers, you have to choose a very specific market and commit to it. It is easier to grow when you reduce your scope than to expand your market.

In short, start-ups are often afraid of outright commitment when the real danger to be feared are tasteless compromises.

2.Fear of Difference

Today's companies are very focused on hiring people whose personalities are compatible with the corporate culture. This is not a bad thing. But we have to be careful since the line is thin between finding candidates who share the company's culture and looking for clones of the team in place

Long Live Difference!

The difference is not only good, it's even better! It is crucial to have a variety of personalities in a business. Diversity (which implies difference) within a team allows the whole to take into consideration realities that would never have come to mind in a homogeneous group. To understand the variety of customers you are reaching out to, you need to be able to understand a variety of perspectives.

How do you know if you are hiring candidates who share your culture or just clones of yourself? Don't just look for people who match your business, but for those who add to your business.

What is "like me"?

Additionally, if you really want to engage with your corporate culture, you need to know exactly what your corporate culture is. To do this, you need to clearly define and communicate what is valuable to you, who is valuable to you, and how you operate.

Just because you clearly establish your corporate culture does not mean it cannot change as your business evolves. This is a good thing! Make sure, however, that you always have an official culture that truly represents the DNA of your business.

In this context, rather than fear the discomfort of difference, it would be wiser to be careful not to give into too much uniformity.

By overcoming their fear of commitment and difference, start-ups can focus on the real pitfalls to be avoided - the compromises that no one ultimately likes and the too much uniformity that prevents the design of all the opportunities of success.

In the second part of this article, discover how the fear of change, the prospect of disappointing, as well as the fear of inferiority can be overcome and redirected into real traps to be avoided.