3 Things Entrepreneurs Should Stop Saying


12 Jan 3 Things Entrepreneurs Should Stop Saying

We entrepreneurs live in a confusing world of constant chaos that dares us to think big but forces us to act small. Almost as hard as figuring out your plan of attack is finding the right words to describe it.

We are also constantly pitching our ideas, whether it’s to our team about exploring a new direction, customers who have never heard of our products, or partners looking for way to collaborate. In any given day we’ll probably explain what we’re doing to a combination of investors, lawyers, partners, press, accountants, competitors, employees, co-founders, etc… Messaging is the life-blood of any early stage company, and it’s needs to both communicate basic ideas but also intrigue and motivate.   That balancing act is made all the more difficult as your idea is evolving and the market is shifting under your feet.

Since there is no way of giving you any sort of viable advice on what “to” say, I have listed the Top 3 Phrases Entrepreneurs Should Stop Saying. This little checklist will keep you from looking like an unoriginal, naïve rookie time after time.

“We’re the Uber of…”

I go to quite a few events and meet hundreds of entrepreneurs a month, so I tend to see some trends. Some of these trends are good and most of them are bad. Saying that you are the “Uber of something” has rapidly skyrocketed to the top of the DO NOT SAY list for entrepreneurs.

This attempt to “dumb down” your idea for the common folk has even started to annoy them. In fact, I have heard three of my friends, who never talk about startups, make jokes about this over the last few months.  Also beware of what leveraging a brand so heavily says about your company – it probably cheapens your vision and brings along unitended baggage (how defensible is it?).

Recently, after hearing the 20th company tell me they were the Uber of something at a recent conference got me in a funny mood. I decided to make a joke of it and test it out on an attendee of the conference. I told the next person that came up to our booth that we were Uber for Uber users and that what we do is find Uber users to call a ride for non-Uber users. She stalled for a minute, we had a straight face moment, and then we both started to laugh out loud. She was in the know as well.

“Making the world a better place”

If you don’t get this reference, you should go watch the TV show Silicon Valley immediately.   I cannot believe that I still hear this phrase, or some form of it.  Steer clear to avoid being the butt of a joke but also because it reeks of naive arrogance, overreach, and lack of focus.  Don’t get me wrong, confidence, big ideas, bold, audaciuos goals are welcome, but your messaging should be about how you’re going dominate the specific problem that you’ve targeted and you’re going to be the hero for your customer.  Let your passion show and lead that audience down the path of where you’re going, but let them use their imagination to determine its impact on the world and humanity.

“Billion Dollar Company”

Nothing says rookie like the sound of the B word. I hear it every day, “my company is going to be the next billion dollar company.” Look, I get it, I feel the same way, but sometimes things like this are better left unsaid.

The odds of a startup making it to the Billion Dollar price tag are very close to the odds of making the Major Leagues. Furthermore, the expression simply tells the potential partner, investor or contact that you really don’t know a whole lot about scale or growth. Next time you feel tempted, stop what you are going to say and use this one…”I think we are going to be very big one day”, that’s all you have to say.

Lord knows that I want everyone of you to change the world and create Billion Dollar companies, I do. But that may never happen if we, as a community, continue to withhold important information from each other. Some things should just be thought about, a lot, but not spoken out loud.

What advice would you give another entrepreneur on what NOT to say?

Eric Rice