Why Startup Urgency Matters

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That should be the mantra of startups, especially early stage startups.

We are building something new.

We are losing money every month. From our investors or our personal loss of wages.

Getting the product to market, validating the product, and making money is urgent.

Urgency can make or break a startup. 

It's not just about moving fast; it's about moving with purpose and precision. 

In a recent episode of Startup Hustle, I had the pleasure of chatting with Maria Flynn, founder and CEO of AmbioLogix, about the critical role of urgency in entrepreneurship. She recently wrote a book titled Make Opportunity Happen full of great tips for entrepreneurs.

Today, we will discuss urgency, which is one of the themes of her book.

Why Urgency Matters

Urgency breeds innovation. 

When you're constantly racing against the clock, you're forced to think creatively and find efficient solutions. It's this pressure that often leads to breakthrough ideas and pivotal decisions.

The corporate world moves slowly because they lack a sense of urgency and aren’t willing to take risks.

Startups are all about risk and speed!

Urgency isn't just about internal drive. It's also about recognizing and seizing market opportunities before they vanish. 

In the startup world, timing is everything. A sense of urgency ensures you're always ready to capitalize on the right moment.

The AI bubble we are currently in is a great example. Companies that can quickly bring AI-related products to market are raising large sums of money and capturing entire new market segments.

Balancing Urgency and Patience

The trickiest part of entrepreneurship is knowing when to push hard and when to take a step back.

It's a common misconception that urgency means constant, frantic activity. In reality, effective urgency is about strategic action. 

I've learned this lesson the hard way. 

I’m naturally very driven. I wake up every morning with a sense of urgency. I want to quickly figure things out and go go go. Most employees can’t live in a work environment that constantly puts them under extreme pressure and a state of urgency.

It is just pure chaos for the average person. 

You have to know when to push hard and when to be patient.

During our conversation on the podcast, Maria Flynn emphasized the importance of this balance. She pointed out that sometimes, patience is what creates urgency in others. For instance, during her company's acquisition, having enough cash and options allowed her to be patient, which paradoxically made the acquirer more urgent to close the deal.

I've found that the key is to be urgently patient. Stay alert and ready to move, but don't force actions that aren't ripe. It's like surfing - you must paddle hard to catch the wave but also wait for the right wave.

This balance of urgency and patience separates successful entrepreneurs from the rest.

Tips for Creating and Maintaining Urgency

Creating and maintaining urgency is an art that every entrepreneur must master.

One of my most effective strategies is setting clear, time-bound goals. When a concrete deadline looms, it naturally creates a sense of urgency. The best way to do this is to have the entire team help develop the goal. This way, it becomes their goal to achieve, not my arbitrary goal.

It is easier to hold be accountable when you say, “You said you would have it done by this date.”

Maria shared an interesting tip about using external factors to create urgency. She mentioned how angel tax credits with expiration dates can motivate investors to act quickly. I've used similar tactics in my businesses, leveraging industry events to drive deadlines.

Another crucial aspect is maintaining momentum. As Maria aptly put it, "It's all about momentum. So start with one small step, and then the next step becomes clear." 

I couldn't agree more. In my experience, taking that first step, no matter how small, often unleashes a chain reaction to the next steps.

Regular check-ins and progress updates are also vital. In my companies, we have weekly meetings where team members share their top priorities. This not only keeps everyone accountable but also maintains a constant sense of forward motion. It also helps ensure proper communication.

Urgency is contagious. When you consistently demonstrate urgency in your actions, it spreads throughout your organization. It has to start at the top.

However, balancing this sense of urgency with your team's well-being is crucial. Constant pressure without relief can lead to burnout. I've learned to celebrate quick wins and provide rest periods after intense sprints.

By fostering a culture of purposeful urgency, you can drive your team to achieve remarkable results.

Strategies for Dealing with Partners and Clients

One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is aligning their sense of urgency with partners and clients.

I've been in situations where a potentially game-changing partnership was moving at a snail's pace, and it was incredibly frustrating. But over time, I've developed strategies to deal with this. 

One approach that Maria Flynn shared, which I've found extremely effective, is to make things as easy as possible. It is all about removing friction and speeding up the process.

For instance, we give affiliate partners of Full Scale marketing materials to help them promote our business. We need to make it easy for them!

Another crucial strategy is consistent follow-up. I've learned that you can't just wait for replies. You need to have a systematic follow-up process. Maria shared that she rarely gets off a call without asking, "OK, when do we want to do that?" This simple question creates a commitment and a timeline.

Sometimes, you must leverage the fear of missing out (FOMO) to create urgency in partners. Highlighting the potential opportunities they might miss if they don't act quickly can be a powerful motivator.

By making it easy for partners to act and consistently follow up, you can align their sense of urgency with yours.

Key Takeaways

Time is always of the essence when it comes to startups. 

You need to build the product, get it to market, and grow!

You don’t necessarily have to “move fast and break things,” but you definitely need to keep moving. You have to get the momentum and keep it.

As a leader, it is your responsibility to always be looking for things that could slow the team down and remove those roadblocks.

Here are some actionable takeaways to help you harness the power of urgency:

1. Set clear goals with deadlines to create accountability and motivation.

2. Balance urgency and patience so you don’t burn out your employees.

3. Make things as simple as possible when working with partners and clients.

4. Harness the power of urgency to move fast and make quick decisions.

What time is it?


Who is Matt Watson?
Join 48,000 others, and follow me on LinkedIn. I am also the host of the Startup Hustle podcast, which you can listen to on any podcast app or YouTube.

I’m the CEO of Full Scale. We help companies scale up their development teams with top talent from the Philippines at a 60% savings.


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