From the day we’re born, we are told that fighting is bad.
Whether it’s parents telling us not to fight with our siblings or teachers telling us not to fight with classmates, we are all brought up to be civilised and easy to get along with.
And obviously that’s a good thing. It’s important for us all to be able to live together harmoniously and be positive members of the community.
However, I would argue that when it comes to growing a start-up, you need to go against all those years of social training.
With a start-up, you are creating something new. It does not exist yet and it will invariably challenge the status quo – it’s designed to do things differently and change the natural order.
This is the essence of the famous Austro-Hungarian economist Joseph Schumpeter’s notion of creative destruction – of new, better ideas coming along and destroying old ideas.
Bottom line? If you are successful in executing your business plan, you will create enemies from among those that wish to defend and protect what they already have and what you threaten.
You need to be prepared to fight. Being liked, getting along, being agreeable – they are all worthy qualities in most facets of your life, but they will hold you back if you want your start-up to be successful.
I’m sure in your business plan you have a spreadsheet that projects your future earnings for three years into the future. Those dollars are not just going to naturally appear in your company’s bank account.
You are going to have to fight for them. You are going to have to win clients or customers from other people. And they are not going to just hand them over to you simply because you have a great new business idea.
This is something that has taken me awhile to come to terms with myself with my own media planning and buying website. Start-ups are not purely intellectual or creative exercises. They’re not just about having the latest, sexiest idea.
You need to be prepared to step into the arena and fight to make it all happen – to have people get angry with you, refuse to talk to you, ignore you, actively try and undermine you.
They will and they do. And you need to keep fighting to impose your vision of the future on the world. Be ready for it. Accept it.
Please do not misunderstand me. I’m not saying that you should deliberately set out to be unpleasant or unlikable or purposefully do things to antagonise competitors or to bend the law or anything like that. Not at all.
All I am saying is that if you are going to launch a start-up, you need to be prepared to stand up and fight for it.