Business or People

Posted by Suman on Mar 03, 2021

Business or people?

A start-up is often split between these two.

This is not as easy a question as it may seem.

Even the most promising of the startups fail at answering this.

The result is...


The startups that fail, fail.

The startups that succeed,

are kept from the uniqueness that they could be.

Over time, they inflate into just another big, boring company.


And this is not even considering the 90%+ of the startups

that form the zoo of startups around these promising ones.

Because I have no business with the zoo of startups.

Because I am always drawn to the cream-of-the-crop.


As if by magic,

the vitality of being business-centric

or people-centric occurs only to the remaining 10%.

In this post, I address these budding unicorns.


In my conversations with such startups,

it becomes obvious that even in their insistence to be the next-big-thing,

hides their blatant deviation from the path that will get them there.

On one hand, they keep repeating and nodding...

"Yes, it is about people",

"I want to gather the best people",

"I want to give them ownership and freedom",

and then on the other hand,

when questioned about what is being done to facilitate what they nod to,

they passionately start telling me about their new "culture",

or the many books that they religiously read on this matter.


Dear friend,

what you are yet to understand is this...

Policies, culture, and best practices

will always give you the low-hanging fruit.

Reading best-sellers or that one obscure book or any other information

to "best manage" the people in your company will

is also going for the low-hanging fruit.


Low hanging fruits will satiate your hunger

for those that hang high above.

The highest, most succulent, and nourishing fruits are hidden.

They await for those who seek not just an answer.

They await for those who seek The Answer.


Business or People?

is not the question that will give The Answer.

Behind this hides the question that no one bothers to see.


It is this ...

Group/Team/Collective or Individual?


Why does everyone miss this?

Two reasons.

1. They are blinded by their culture, mentors, books, and other best-practices.

2. In their maddening passion for their startup,

they forget about their own deeper and visceral individual traits.


Because they miss the hidden question,

both the people-centric and business-centric cohorts

end up sacrificing the individuals in their company.


Because they miss the hidden question,

even the cream-of-the-crop startups end of slaving

away for the business and sacrifice blossoming into the Unicorn they could be.


Because they miss the hidden question,

they fail to realize that success has many shades.

A business can be successful in a million different ways.

And in almost all such ways,

the individuals in that business ultimately lose.


Because they miss the hidden question,

they forget that a team is as strong as the weakest individual.

(No matter how much "teamwork" is put in place.)