by • September 2, 2011 • FoundersComments (2)169

Re-sync your beliefs

Steve Blank remains, for my money, the best voice in startups.

Beyond his experience (the valley’s entire history) and range (entrepreneur, investor, educator), he has managed to keep his identity separate from his advice. He is able and willing to publicly update his beliefs as the world changes.

“During the the Lean Startup era, the advice was clear; focus on building the company and avoid hype. Now that advice has changed. Like every bubble this is a game of musical chairs. While you still need irrational focus on customers for your product, you and your company now need to be everywhere and look larger than life. Show and talk at conferences, be on lots of blogs, use social networks and build a brand. In the new bubble PR may be your new best friend, so invest in it.” –Steve Blank, March 2011

Reading that quote in March made me consider how much of startup advice is morally loaded. You should bootstrap and shouldn’t over-promote and it’s bad to raise early VC and it’s good to solve your own problems. I think a lot of this comes from the few people at the top, who really know their stuff, having to take a strong, clear stand while on-stage, and then everyone else copying the stage message without the journey & context behind it. I once asked for advice from DHH from 37signals before an event and his response could fairly be described as nuanced and humble.

Steve’s perspective with that advice carries no moral judgement. He’s considering the world as it stands, and then sharing how he thinks founders will get the highest expected return.

“Over the last decade we assumed that once we found repeatable methodologies (Agile and Customer Development, Business Model Design) to build early stage ventures, entrepreneurship would become a “science,” and anyone could do it. I’m beginning to suspect this assumption may be wrong.
It’s not that the tools are wrong. Where I think we have gone wrong is the belief that anyone can use these tools equally well.” –Steve Blank, August 2011

There aren’t many voices you’ll see publicly shift like this. Too many have merged their philosophy and income. A few other good ones exist[1], but not many.

When you find a teacher like that, study and treasure them. And in their absence, remind yourself to take the initiative and consider where your business beliefs came from and how they might be adjusted to better suit today.

[1] These are examples, not an exhaustive list.

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2 Responses to Re-sync your beliefs

  1. Good post and simple to understand description. How do I go about getting permission to publish part of the post within my future newsletter?…

    • robfitz says:

      Thanks! You’re welcome to re-post some of it. Just send me an email letting me know where it’s going and provide a link back to this blog.