Startup = pro-active risk-taking

From The most important question in a startup: Am I being proactive? by Peter Nixey:

In a big company, your job is to maintain the status quo. Startups are entirely the opposite. If startups are not changing then they are dying. Everything we do is about changing numbers not maintaining them. We do not fail in unsuccessful attempts to take new ground, we fail in not making those attempts in the first place.

Reactive tasks are about maintaining your current position, they are about not losing ground, they are low risk. Pro-active tasks require taking new ground and taking ground that you’re not sure can even be taken.

Being proactive is hard and comes hand in hand with failure. But these are the jobs that actually move us forward. These are the jobs which, while infused with risk, are also laced with sparkly rewards.

So – as you put jobs into your daily to-do list, ask yourself: “is this proactive or reactive”? If it’s the former and it’s “tangible, fail-able and do-able” then it’s probably an excellent task. If it’s not then perhaps it really does need to happen but also ask yourself whether there is another way that you to spend that time that really moves the company forward.

3 thoughts on “Startup = pro-active risk-taking

  1. Another way to look at it is that re-active tasks mitigate risk or re-mediate the effects of things that you had little control over to begin with. If you’re evaluating the pro-active tasks correctly to begin with, you’ve tried to identify those things which will require reaction.

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