Why Founders Fixing New, Hard Challenges Typically Succeed

Why Founders Fixing New, Hard Challenges Typically Succeed

In life and especially in business, it is always easier to execute a new, hard and great mission than a marginal one. Men and women easily sign up for things which are GREAT than things which are ephemeral. Yes, it would be easier to execute Tesla mission than another typical car company like Ford or Peugeot. While great people will line up for Tesla, many would be unresponsive for another Ford or Peugeot.

At different levels, a Call to Mission requires extremely committed people. Even in your business, you must have that capacity to find and recruit people that can help you execute a great mission. You must prepare them. Equip them. And push them to come and get glory.

As a founder, that is your challenge. When no one wants to work with you, it means you could be trying to solve a mundane problem. Sure, you are fixing a friction and you are solving a business problem in the market. Nonetheless, it is not challenging enough to inspire the best you need to help you execute. If you have that talent paralysis, you may need to go back to the drawing board. Yes, you need to distill the vision further. That is the only way you can get believers for the mission.

Why do we need a business? We need a business because market is not friction-less. If markets have been friction-less, buyers and sellers will not need firms in between them. In other words, if a saver can find a borrower without going through a bank to put that money, and then the bank will go ahead to lend to the borrower from that money, we will not have a need for a bank. In other words, the reason we have a bank is because there is a friction for a saver and a borrower to do business directly. The bank comes in as an intermediary to reduce that level of friction. For doing that, the bank is paid.

When Mark Zuckerberg says he wants to “bring the world closer together“, via Facebook, he has put a great vision. It is certainly new and it is worthwhile. The newness and hardness are not necessarily a function of technology, but rather the aspirational quality of the mission at hand. When Google says it wants to organize the world’s information, it has something many people, across generations, would commit to help it execute.

In our age, you can sign up a whole village if you say you are going to the moon. But if you say you want to dig the ground, many will not show up. Going to the moon is new and harder; men and women would be inspired by that possibility. Digging the ground is easier and stale; few people would want that. The best talent would congregate for the moon business while the digging ground one will struggle.

It is counterintuitive – founders who typically succeed are those who go out for new and hard challenges! They easily mobilize the world to execute what they want done. The other founders [who play safe] struggle to find believers, and they typically fail because the best do not want to work on marginal problems.

The deal is clear: find a way to communicate a greater purpose with passion so that people can join to help you. I want to “unite African payment” is far better than I want to have a “platform for people to pay”. I want to “help people live fuller and healthier lives” is better than “I want to build a clinic”. That distillation anchors many things, and you must get the right message for your startup. You need that, if you want the best to wear your company badge.


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