‘No’ doesn’t kill start ups, ‘Maybe’ does

Posted by on Jan 27, 2013

‘Maybe’ can be a seductive word in startup land. You can read positive or negative sentiment into it depending on what you want to hear at the time.

- I’m maybe going to quit my job and go full time on my project

- We might consider buying your product in the new year

- If you secure another investor we may invest alongside

I’m as guilty as the next person as counting a maybe as a victory. When good news is scarce, when you need to justify what you’ve been doing, or when you just want to appear a success, dressing up maybe as a positive is really tempting.

But maybe is the source of a whole bunch of delay and wasted effort. Opportunity cost is the biggest factor in start up risk: While you are doing one thing, you are choosing not to do 10 others. If that one thing you are choosing to do, or the path your are choosing to follow hangs on a maybe then you need to eliminate that as quickly as you can – even if means it turns into a no. At least then you have clarity and can move on with other activities