Ignore The Unicorns

This may sound counterintuitive, but really it has your best interest in mind. If you can manage to look away you'll have much more productive and enjoyable days ahead. Perhaps you think I'm making a snap judgment on more than a handful of industry juggarnauts.

By shifting your focus away from the Unicorns you'll improve your venture in several ways

  • You'll be focused on your customers not your (potential) competition
  • You'll be focused on internal milestones not mentions on blogs or industry magazines
  • You'll be focused on on pushing forward not lingering in the present

Why are these 3 points so vital? Because the consequences losing your focus to the above items can completely derail you personally or negatively impact your entire venture.

Don't get me wrong, it is important to know who your competition is and what they are doing (especially what they aren't doing well and where they excel). But focusing too much attention on your key competitors will distract you from working on your own venture (especially if you are dwelling on the media attention they are receiving). Getting press is great, but it doesn't mean a venture is making money or adding value to their customers.

Focusing on your own venture seems common sense, so why bring so much attention to it? Distractions are everywhere and it isn't just your competition. Focusing too heavily on press you get can have you drinking your own kool-aid to the point that you ignore shortcomings in your products and services. Keep a diligent watch on your internal metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPI). Those will more closely tell you if your venture is making a difference to your customers.

You must celebrate victories that your team and venture achieve, but don't let those moments become stories of "the glory days". Strive to continuously make improvements. Never allow yourself or team to completely settle on what you have achieved, because being comfortable rarely leads to greatness. Keep your future roadmap at the forefront of your mind. Ensure that short and long term goals are often revisited with your team to ensure there is a shared understanding and that the goals still make sense.

I'll close with why the term "unicorn" needs retired. The term "unicorn" was fitting because hardly any young startup ventures were valued at or above a billion dollars, until recently. However, with so many ventures being "inducted" to that elite group, the term "unicorn" no longer makes sense.

I'd like to put forth a more fitting term for that category of venture, "anomaly". Why? Because an anomaly is an oddity or an inconsistency within a larger group. That is how I perceive this group both because some of those ventures aren't even profitable and investing that level of money on a constant basis is not sustainable. That is why you need to focus on your customers and products. When value is obvious the money will come.