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Entrepreneurs Have To Learn To Kill

The media is firmly to blame for romanticizing the life of an entrepreneur. You see polished specimens on Shark Tank, you leaf through their lives in the features sections of business magazines, and every second blog proceeds to hero worship their every move. The masses are spoon-fed with idyllic dreams of fast cars and faraway beaches.

Don’t believe a word. The car windscreens are splattered with the blood of road kill that was “in the way”, and the beaches are littered with the bloated bodies of those who didn’t quite make it. Would you save someone else if it meant you were risking drowning yourself? Would you swerve past that deer in the road and risk crashing, or would you grimace and plough into the poor creature? Many entrepreneurs simply have to put themselves first sometimes – that is how they get to the top of the greasy pole, by climbing on others.

The important word here is “sometimes.”

Collaboration and compassion are still crucial in a tight-knit start-up community – you never know who your next partner in crime might be, and you are never sure where your money is coming from next. It pays to act the “good guy” – you try to do the right things, say the right things and portray the right image. But sometimes, just sometimes, you have to take another path…. If you don’t, you will be putting your company (and those that you work with) at risk.

You might have to take one of your competitors out of the equation. Market share is sometimes easier to gain if there are fewer mouths to feed. Sometimes. You reel them in like a helpless fish to the bank, not letting them get a gulp of precious water, denying them any hope. Then, onto the bank and a dull thud over the head for good measure. You can’t risk them slipping back into the water – the kill should be swift and efficient. After you have done it a few times, it will seem normal. Everyone does it, why shouldn’t you?

Wild animals, who have to travel for their survival cannot carry weak or injured passengers. They might try to help them, but ultimately they will leave them. The most successful entrepreneurs cannot scale the heights if they are carrying too much extra weight. People who are not contributing will be fired, and they will often be fired swiftly. You don’t often hear about staff turnover figures in start-ups…. I wonder why.

There are many other gruesome instances where entrepreneurs need their killing streak (I am sure that you can think of some), but there are none more important that an ability to kill a bit of themselves when required. Writers are encouraged to “kill their darlings” and get rid of the superfluous prose – equally entrepreneurs should be ruthless with the thousands of ideas that pop up in their heads. Sometimes the core concept itself needs to be killed in order for another to rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

Entrepreneurs do need to learn how to kill. Could you do it?