Believe in the mission, not the path

This morning I saw this advice in a tweet:

Founders, don’t be married to what you’re building today, because it won’t be what u ultimately build.

I think this is very bad advice, and gets to the core of what’s wrong with entrepreneurship advice in general.  Entrepreneurship is a really hard path, requiring a ton of dedication, hard work, often over many years.  If you don’t have a deep commitment to the mission of your effort, to the problem you are solving, you’ll fold as soon as you hit a speed bump.

The right advice is that you should have true passion for the problem you are trying to solve.  You should have a deeply held believe that there is a gap in the marketplace that you can fill in a way that others can’t.

You should not be committed to the path to fulfill that mission.

Your path will twist and turn, and you will hit many dead ends, have to back track, and find another route.  Many of your assumptions will be wrong.  Your experiments will fail.  Your business will build slower than you thought. But the North Star of your mission should remain resolute.

With one rare exception.  You may come to a time when you find that your original assumptions around the opportunity were genuinely wrong.  Maybe competitors moved faster.  Maybe you didn’t have the right answer, and you now see that you aren’t well positioned to address the opportunity you saw.  Perhaps you didn’t understand the marketplace as well as you thought, and the opportunity never really existed at all.

That can lead to the infamous Pivot.  And a Pivot can be fine, when Pivoting to another opportunity you are deeply committed to.

But don’t go into your startup expecting to Pivot.  Go into it expecting to have to adjust your path regularly on your way to fulfilling your mission.  There is a huge difference between the two.  The advice in that tweet above missed that point entirely.

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