And The Purpose of a Startup Is?

I play a little guitar. (Not very well).

Why do I play?

It's not to entertain others. It's not to be part of a band. Maybe it's because it's a way to relax. It's can be a sense of achievement. It's about enjoying learning something new.

I used not to play. Now I play. I changed my behaviour. This got me thinking about startups.

What is a startup?

I've always been a fan of the definition of a startup given by Steve Blank.

A startup is an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model

(See: What’s A Startup? First Principles)

I'd like to offer an extension of that excellent definition.

The purpose of a startup is to change behaviour

I say this because any startup needs to find a way to disrupt existing behaviours and create a business where customers pay, suppliers are happy, the team enjoy working there and investors want to put money in to grow the business.

  • Change the behaviour of potential customers
  • Change the behaviour of potential suppliers
  • Change the behaviour of potential investors
  • Change the behaviour of team members

When you start thinking of creating a business in this way, it becomes apparent that entrepreneurs are agents of change.

Rational and emotional

These startup challenges require an understanding of not only the rational way people currently do things but also the emotional reasons.

One of the most powerful things an entrepreneur can do is to think about why. Why do people behave the way they do. Why would they care? Why will they change? Why, why, why.

Rational reasons are not enough. Buy this product because it is better is not usually the reason why people buy. Successful entrepreneurs tap into feelings, motivations and identities.

The reasons why people do things are deep and varied.

Change behaviours and change the world

Here are a few examples of startups that have changed my behaviour in the last 12 months

Instead of going to Companies House for information, I go to Duedil
Instead of using Blogger I use Ghost
Instead of tweeting directly I use Buffer
Instead of going to the shops I buy my clothes from Thread
I started tracking my bike rides on Strava
I now buy take-aways using Just-Eat
I now set the temperature of my house using Nest

Not only have these companies found a repeatable business model, they have done so by successfully changing behaviour.

There are rational reasons for using these startup products and but there are also emotional ones. Success requires understanding and addressing both.

Subscribe to

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.