The Startup Path is Paved with Dopamine Junkies
How many impressions do you need to close your funding?
How many likes are required to reach your revenue goal?
The answer is very likely: none!
Yet, week after week, we post our stories on social media and share our fails, wins, and experiences of what it takes to be a founder.
That by itself is not a bad thing. I would have loved to learn from other stories before drowning in my own founder issues. And I know many of you gain courage and inspiration from sharing your experience with others, too.
Any moment you invest in writing, posting, or show-pitching takes precious time away from your core business. And your core business is to deliver paid value to your customers.
What concerns me is the mental load this is causing for many of you. Instead of building “just” a business, you compete for public attention as a person. By connecting your startup activities with your person, you 10x the pressure and make every move a personal win or fail.
A battle for attention you can’t win!
Does the world benefit from hearing your story? Maybe. Does this support your startup? Likely not. Any moment you invest in writing, posting, or show-pitching takes precious time away from your core business. And your core business is to deliver paid value to your customers.
Putting aside the question if you need (personal) attention to build your business: This is an uphill battle you can’t win. Not because of you but because it is not a fair fight in the first place. Let’s take a look at the “competition” for attention:
Creators like Diana zur Löwen are playing the startup entertainment card well. She is no startup founder. She doesn’t need to manage a scaling team, build a product or get funding. As a creator, her core business generates attention and entertains 50k followers.
Serial Founders like Miriam Wohlfarth became well known through leveraging their initial startup success as founder and CEO. The order is essential. Now she is a book author, on the board of several companies, coaches startup founders, and supports great causes, like Startup Teens.
Ecosystem Players like Moinland, Reboot, or German Accelerator leverage their reach to generate leads. We have worked with over 250 founders, which provides a wealth of stories to build on. The startup ecosystem is our core business.
Investors like Matthias Helfrich have a significant advantage in providing a resource all founders want: Cash. That generates leverage in the attention game. In addition, some investors like Brad Feld, Fred Wilson, or Tomasz Tunguz provide valuable content based on the hundreds of companies in their portfolios. Similar to ecosystem players, founders are their core business.
Bottom line: These people have significant advantages when building a social media following compared to you as a startup founder.
The startup path is paved with wrecked dopamine junkies. The mental load of maintaining a public persona while building a company has been a constant theme in our coaching, especially when you compare yourself with the above list of competitors for attention.
The above is not to discourage you from an active social media life. Providing your customers with great content, connecting with people you care about, or having community among founders can be very powerful.
We just encourage you to be intentional about it.