Killer Instinct Can Blind You to the Value of Partners

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 4 Finding your Niche

In “Killer Instinct” Rafael Corrales writes:

There are no plus-minus stats to measure a player’s ruthlessness, his desire to beat his opponent so badly he’ll need therapy to recover. [...]

Athletic greats squeeze every ounce out of their abilities. That drive and hunger is worth noting, since top athletes are typically not satisfied even when pulling in accolades, championships, and money.

Instead of measuring success relative to the general population, or a peer group, the great ones measure success relative to their potential and abilities. It’s clear this also applies to startups.

I encourage everyone I know to go start something if they’ve at least proven there’s a market need. I bet that the people who will be great are the ones who have a killer instinct to succeed.

If by killer instinct he means the value of focus then I agree.

But I find most startups succeed more on their ability to negotiate win-win outcomes with partners, customers, suppliers and less on “winner take all” models. Most markets look more like stag hunts where teams of cooperating players outperform “go it alone” firms. If a startup team sets high standards of excellence for performance that’s  great.

But you face so many competitors, including the status quo, that a focus on winning can lead to you to overlook opportunities for partnering. Especially in the early market. In  “What makes entrepreneurial” Saras Sarasvathy writes:

“Expert entrepreneurs […] are actually in the business of creating the future, which entails having to work together with a wide variety of people over long periods of time. [They fill their future] with enduring human relationships that outlive failures and create successes over time”

“This is largely ignored in our entrepreneurship curricula which tend to focus on market research, business planning, new venture financing and legal issues. As far as I know no entrepreneurship programs offer courses in creating and managing lasting relationships or stable stakeholder networks, nor on failure management.”

See also: “Saras Sarasvathy’s Effectual Reasoning Model for Entrepreneurs”

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