We've all heard people use certain phrases that make our skin crawl. Some of us have even used these phrases. On a daily basis, I find myself rolling my eyes at some crazy statement I hear from a CEO who claims he's going to build the next Facebook--when in reality, all he has is an idea on a napkin.
In fact, I look forward to sending this very article to the next entrepreneur who makes one of the four following statements:
1. "It must be the smart thing to do, because our competitor is doing it."
If that's the way you think--that just because your competitor is doing something, it must be the right thing to do--allow me to enlighten you. That same competitor is looking at you and trying to determine what to do. They, like you, are experimenting with new strategies and tactics to see what sticks.
It's incredibly important to stay on top of your competitors's activity and learn from other players in your space. But just because someone else is doing something does not, by any means, mean is the right or most effective thing to do.
Instead, pay attention to what everyone else is doing, take it into account, then do your own thing. Measure its success. Then iterate.
2. "Then we'll go viral."
This is the one I hear most. It's also, by far, the most dangerous. If your marketing strategy has the word "viral" in it, fire your marketing person. If that person is you, resign right now.
Going viral isn't a strategy. It's not something you can ever plan for, or even work toward. It's not a goal, strategy, or plan.
If you want to own your space, start by thinking about how you can become a true voice in that space. Give me some real value, something that enhances the lives of your audience, and I will be more inclined to click "Like" on your page and retweet your tweets. Multiply that by a million people and you'll get your viral hit--but your focus should be value, not virality.
3. "We're going to revolutionize our trillion-dollar space."
Let's put aside the fact that for your idea to become a billion-dollar business, approximately 10,000 things need to happen, all of which are borderline impossible. I don't want to focus on the challenges of entrepreneurship. Whether you can or cannot execute and scale your business is a topic for another time.
Stating that you're going to revolutionize a huge industry is arrogant--and more importantly, it will make people take you less seriously. Every entrepreneur thinks that they will revolutionize an industry, and that's good. It's important for you to believe it. Leave it there in your head.
Saying it makes you sound like everyone else. That's the last thing you want.
4. "If you build it, they will come."
This one is a winner. No product in history, no matter how good it was or how badly people wanted it, sold itself. No technology has ever won without an accompanying business plan and marketing strategy.
Building a product isn't enough. If you truly believe your product is so good that people will come running, you're extraordinarily naive--and you're in for some very bitter surprises in the near future.
Building an exceptional product is literally the first step in your 100-mile hike through the jungle. The sooner you understand that, the sooner you'll be able to start coping with--and overcoming--the struggles and challenges of entrepreneurship.