Start-ups Don't Starve, They Drown

by Matt Heinz

Drowing ManA former colleague who worked with me at a couple different start-ups had this quote at the top of his white board at all times:

“Start-ups don’t starve, they drown.”

The point is simple – very few of our organizations have a lack of opportunity, or things to do. One of our most important jobs is to choose the right things to do on a daily basis, and ensure our priorities are well thought-out and are kept in perspective, despite the daily fire drills and interruptions that fight for our time.

Author Om Malik recently wrote about the downsizing of Joost, and offered a similar, thoughtful perspective:

“Joost hired too many people, too quickly. It never behaved like a start-up but instead felt like a grown-up company with too many bureaucratic layers.”

Remember what your mom used to say when you took too big of a bite? If you’re not careful, you’re going to choke. Start-ups are just like that. Unless you focus, you’re going to choke.”

Matt Heinz is principal at Heinz Marketing, a sales & marketing consulting firm helping businesses increase customers and revenue. Contact Matt at or visit

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