Build your startup the way you eat an elephant 

Whenever you’re trying to get something you want, often the non-intuitive is the only way forward. 

For example, if your dog has separation anxiety and is barking non-stop while you’re not home, an animal behaviour expert will often recommend ignoring your dog for 15 to 20 minutes before you leave the house and after you return home.

This seems non-intuitive, as our first instinct as a pet owner is to comfort them and shower them in love and attention when leaving and returning, especially if we know they’re anxious. 

But ignoring the dog allows it the space to learn to be more self-sufficient, calm, and relaxed while you’re not there, thus decreasing its anxiety levels. 

If you’re a parent, you’ll know that many effective parenting tips and tricks also involve the non-intuitive. 

The same goes for building a startup. 

Every week, we meet founders who want to get their product built as soon as possible and push out their whole go-to-market strategy at once. 

This seems like the intuitive thing to do: get the thing built and get it out as early as you can to as many people as possible. 

However, this is rarely (if ever) how startup success works. 

Typically, founders start with an idea of a problem they want to solve.

They’re thinking big about the impact they want to have. 

They have a massive transformative vision and they want to be able to scale. 

They’re asking themselves, how can I impact the lives of millions of people?

Which is great. This is exactly how you should be thinking when it comes to your vision and potential as a startup. 

But if you try to start actually executing with that end vision in mind, you’ll quickly come unstuck.

The complexity of building everything that’s required to delight every segment of the market all at the same time is mind-bending. 

It’s a bit like how things played out in that film called Everything Everywhere All at Once. It’ll do your head in and you won’t be able to keep up. 

More significantly, when you try to appeal to everyone all at once, you’ll appeal to no one, and your product will go nowhere. 

In the early stages, it’s important to map out all the potential customers and market segments in the geographies you may be able to have an impact on. 

But the crucial first step that most founders miss when it comes to early-stage execution is picking their initial niche market segment – otherwise known as selecting a beachhead

The big question to answer is this: What is the one niche element in that entire go-to-market strategy where that pants-on-fire problem is most significant or most easy to identify and tackle? 

This is where eating the elephant one bite at a time comes in. 

Amazon and Tesla are two of the best examples of this non-intuitive step-by-step execution. 

Jeff Bezos’ big vision for Amazon was “to be the most customer-centric company on Earth,” yet the global online shopping empire began in 1994 with just Jeff himself and a list of books.  

The niche he served: people who wanted to quickly access a book without having to go out and buy it themselves. 

How he served them: by putting a list of books and his phone number on a landing page online and having customers call him when they saw a book on the list they wanted. He’d deliver it to them himself. 

Elon Musk’s big vision for Tesla is to electrify every vehicle on the planet – but he didn’t start by actually trying to electrify all types of vehicles for all types of people at once.

Instead, Tesla entered at the high end of the market, where customers are willing and able to pay a premium, and then put plans in place to drive down the market to higher unit volume and lower prices with each successive model. 

When first released, the original Tesla Roadster carried a base price of around $100k positioning it firmly within the luxury sports car market.

The niche he served: wealthy American men who wanted something new and interesting to spend their money on to show off their wealth – and sports car enthusiasts who considered themselves early adopters (recognising the Roadster’s significance in ushering in the electric vehicle era).

The Tesla case study showcases another important example of the non-intuitive for founders who are focused on social impact.

We meet many founders who are embarking on a startup because they want to help the disadvantaged and less fortunate in the world – which we love. 

Yet, they are taken aback to discover that the go-to-market strategy that would allow their highest likelihood of success involves serving those more privileged (who have the ability to pay them a premium) first. 

Many founders never get their idea off the ground because they are unwilling to tackle their problem in this way. 

It’s a hard, non-intuitive truth that often the fastest and most efficient route to having the most social impact means starting with customers who are already well off and able to pay.

If you’ve got a startup idea and you’re designing your go-to-market strategy but need a sounding board to make sure you’re on the right track, we can help.

Fill out this short questionnaire to tell us about your situation, and we’ll get in touch with your next steps.


Whenever you’re ready, here’s how we can help you.

If you’ve got a startup idea, or you’ve already embarked on your journey – you might be facing one or both of these situations.

  1. You’re struggling while going it alone. Worse, you’re wading in the muddy waters of some not-so-great advice.
  2. Perhaps you’re trying to raise capital for your startup and you’re hitting a dead end. Raising capital is a notoriously difficult thing to do. Globally, only 0.74% of startups manage to raise capital at Seed stage. Despite this, 16% of startups we’ve worked with were able to raise capital at Seed stage.

If you’re ready to step up and get the help you need, our Startup Builder™ program was created especially for you.

The Startup Builder™ process is specifically designed to take you all the way from idea to global success – in a way that’s simple, sustainable, and scalable.

If you’re ready to grow your revenue, profit, and social impact faster without wasting time and money on the wrong things at the wrong time, click here to request your Startup Builder™ Strategy Session.


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