Adler's approach to psychology was based on the belief that individuals are motivated by a fundamental drive to overcome feelings of inferiority and to strive for superiority in their lives. He emphasized the importance of understanding the social and cultural context in which a person lives, and believed that individuals have the power to shape their own destiny through their thoughts, beliefs, and actions.
Let's dive deeper into what Adler can learn us about why startups fail.
The need for that extra featureWhen you follow many startup founders on your social media, you know what I am talking about, they often talk about new features and still do not make revenue.
According to Adler's theory of individual psychology, feelings of inferiority arise when an individual perceives a discrepancy between their actual capabilities and their desired goals or aspirations. In other words, people feel inferior when they believe they are unable to achieve what they want or need in life.
We all know the feeling we need that extra feature for our startup to succeed because we are comparing ourselves to our competitors, or even our own ultimate goal. The need for that extra feature is often rooted in early rejections of your idea while pitching or explaining to your friends and family
These experiences created a deep-seated belief your startup is not good enough to succeed yet, worthy enough to promote. And building that extra feature is simply an excuse you create yourself not to push sales.
All startups are born with a "sense of inferiority", which is a normal and necessary part of startup development.
Why do we think our startup is better than the others?From Adler's point of view, the sense of superiority is not about feeling superior to others or having power over them. Rather, it is a healthy and positive feeling of confidence in one's ability to overcome challenges, achieve goals, and make a positive impact on the world.
As an entrepreneur, a creator of a startup we must feel we can overcome the challenges and we must feel a sense of superiority to reach the startup's goal.
Your tendency to add more and more features to your product may stem from a sense of inferiority or a desire for superiority.
On one hand, you may feel a sense of inferiority if you believe that your product is not competitive enough or does not offer enough value to customers. You think that by adding more features, you can make your product more appealing and stand out in a crowded market. This may also stem from your fear of failure.
On the other hand, you may be driven by a desire for superiority if you believe that adding more features will make your product better than your competitors. You think that by constantly improving and adding new features, you can establish your product as the best in its category and gain a competitive edge. This may also stem from a desire for recognition or a need to prove yourself as superior to others.
Why does my startup fail?From Adler's perspective, the success of a startup depends on the ability of its founders and leaders to develop a sense of social interest, a healthy sense of inferiority, and a positive sense of superiority.
When your startup lacks social interest, you may be more focused on your own personal goals and ambitions, rather than on the welfare of your customers, employees, and the broader community. This can lead to a lack of empathy and concern for others, which can undermine the long-term success of your startup.
If you have an exaggerated sense of inferiority, you may be prone to feelings of inadequacy and a lack of confidence. This can lead to a lack of initiative, creativity, and risk-taking, which are essential for success in the startup world.
If you have an exaggerated sense of superiority, you may be prone to overestimating your abilities and underestimating the challenges and obstacles you face. This can lead to a lack of realistic planning and strategy, as well as a lack of humility and willingness to learn from your mistakes.
How can your startups succeed, based on Adler's Point of View?
- Prioritize the welfare of your customers, employees, and the broader community. By doing so, you are more likely to succeed in the long term. By developing a strong sense of social interest, you can build a loyal customer base, attract and retain top talent, and establish a positive reputation in the market.
- While it's important to have confidence in your abilities, as a startup founder, you should maintain a healthy sense of inferiority. When doing so, you will be more likely to be open to feedback, willing to learn from mistakes, and motivated to continuously improve. By embracing a growth mindset and recognizing that there is always room for improvement, you can stay agile and adapt to changing market conditions.
- A healthy sense of superiority is not about feeling better than others, but rather about feeling confident in one's ability to make a positive difference in the world and contribute to the greater good. When you have a positive sense of superiority, you are driven by a sense of purpose and meaning and are willing to work hard(er) and make sacrifices to achieve your goals.
What startups founder should avoid, and reduce the risk of failure?
- Don't solely focus on your own personal goals and ambitions, rather focus on the welfare of your customers
- Don't overestimate your abilities and underestimate your challenges
- Don't exaggerate the sense of superiority and underestimate the competition by failing to recognize their strengths and weaknesses.
- Don't be too risk-averse. While it's important to be cautious and strategic in decision-making, founders who are too risk-averse may miss out on valuable opportunities for growth and innovation.
- Don't neglect self-care, this can undermine your ability to lead and make effective decisions.