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Article by Jason Yavorska | 2023-11-14

Nurturing success at startups#

At startups, where every decision reverberates through the trajectory of the business, the mindful practice of thoughtful care takes center stage. Building on our exploration of crafting software with care, this article delves into why caring is not just a great personal quality but a fundamental requirement for those navigating the challenging terrain of a startup.

Why startups need careful nurturers#

Startups operate on a tightrope, balancing on the fine line between success and obscurity. In this precarious dance, the need for individuals who deeply care about the business becomes indispensable. The reality is, at a startup, resources are limited, and there aren't enough hands to tackle every task. This scarcity demands prioritization, and to prioritize effectively, one must genuinely care about the business outcomes.

Caring at a startup involves understanding the bigger picture - intuiting which endeavors will propel the business forward, and which may lead to unnecessary detours. It's not a task for the indifferent or someone on autopilot. To navigate the intricate web of challenges, one must be invested, conscious, and deeply caring. It can be easy to think "I'm doing the best I can within my area of responsibility" or "I'm just doing what I was told" and, while this may be effective at larger companies where predictability takes a front seat, startups need something different.

How an aversion to conflict can cause problems#

In the startup crucible, overlooking issues is a luxury that can't be afforded. Yet, people, driven by various motives and good intentions, may have a natural inclination to ignore or paper over anything that goes wrong. It might be a desire to maintain a veneer of success, a reluctance to engage in conflict, or a personality trait that shies away from confrontation. It may simply be wanting to stay optimistic in a difficult situation.

Here, caring takes on an important, and somewhat unique dimension — an active stance against complacency. Caring at a startup means being brave enough to confront issues head-on, even when it's uncomfortable. It means recognizing that avoiding conflict, though momentarily soothing, can lead to long-term consequences including failure of the business. It's about caring enough for the success of the team that you're willing to navigate through discomfort and address challenges transparently.

This is of course, not to say you shouldn't still be kind, and the best way to do that on a small team is to take a role in actively helping to solve whatever problems are not being addressed, and doing it without judgment. Remember, everyone is too busy to solve every problem, so jumping in to help on an important problem is often the best way to help constructively and kindly.

And remember, at startups, the pressure to appear successful can be intense. However, true care transcends the desire for appearances. It's about fostering an environment where constructive conflict is not only accepted but embraced as a catalyst for growth.

The fragility of startup success#

Startups represent the most fragile phase of a business's journey, when every team member's dedication and care are critical. Nurturing a startup requires a collective commitment to excellence, a genuine concern for the company's well-being, and an unwavering focus on overcoming challenges together.

In conclusion, caring at startups is not a passive quality but an active force that propels a business forward. It involves prioritizing wisely, confronting challenges transparently, and understanding the fragility of success.

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