The onslaught of negative news-related information that hits us every minute of every day can be overwhelming. With every iPhone notification, sensational blog post, and scrolling television news ticker blaring out bad news, it can seem like nothing is going right in our country, but this Fourth of July I’d like to present a different view on what’s happening here in the United States.
We’re days away from celebrating America’s birthday and it’s incredible to think that what essentially began as a startup effort has survived 237 years. Here are five lessons that every technology marketing startup can learn from watching the progress and growth of the United States:
Our forefathers were the ultimate entrepreneurs; they sailed bravely into new territory in defiance of the way things had always been done in order to build something better. Through backbreaking and often heartbreaking challenges they established a framework and arrived at a point where they were strong enough to put their ideals out into the world for others to see.
Just like a startup company in today’s world, America’s beginnings were full of brave people with big ideas and the courage to stand up and put the word out that they had new ideas about how to do things.
I like to think of the Declaration of Independence as our country’s first branding statement. After a laborious process of debate and compromise at the Second Continental Congress, our forefathers came to agree on the final document.
It was our country’s way of letting everyone else know what we were about and what to expect; our vision for the road ahead and what we were working towards. This process of putting together the ideas that would eventually help define who we are as a nation, was a lot like the arduous task of working through a startup company’s initial branding exercises.
Startups set their mission statements and have a vision. They fight hard to get to a place where they can operate on their own, independent of financial assistance from others. The people that build these companies from the ground up, step away from what they know, what they’re familiar with, and they take a chance on the opportunity to build something amazing, something never done before. They make the best decisions they can with the information at hand and step out into the market with their best efforts on display.
As information and feedback comes in, these companies have to adapt, make changes to marketing plans and product roadmaps, and adjust expectations. This is the part where things can get tricky, but it’s a necessary stage in the life of a startup, and it’s this part of the process that I believe the United States is in currently.
Growing up is hard to do; we all know that. So it flies in the face of logic for anyone to expect a constant level of perfection from our country, or any organization for that matter. We’re still young, still growing, making mistakes and learning. Think about the teenagers you know. Things get messy sometimes.
As time passes and we continue to build on the original foundation that was laid for our country, it should come as no surprise that ideals we may have originally agreed on may not serve us anymore. This is the same reason why mission statements are revised, websites get updated and new companies end up making big changes to original plans.
I think that remembering this would help a lot of us to see that while America is definitely not perfect, it’s also not totally doomed. Our country is simply going through the growing pains that all startups have to endure if they want to solidify what they’ve created and settle in for the long haul.
Be Proud of What You’ve Built
That’s why this holiday, I’ll be taking a moment to step away from the constant stream of negative news about how the United States is “falling apart” and “failing” and “every-other-terrible-thing-you-can-imagine” and I’ll be celebrating our success of making it this far and staying on top. The United States is the most celebrated and accomplished “brand” in the world. Are we perfect? No. But are we working to become a more perfect union? Yes.
Ask anyone who’s been part of a company that’s been around for a while about their beginnings, their history. If you can find anyone who will tell you that the road to success was smooth and clear of obstacles, well… well, nothing. You won’t find them.
Enjoy The Process
So startups take note: As you set out to establish your company’s roots, be prepared for your major brand ideals to be challenged. And if you’re fortunate enough to earn a spot in the media, or garner any amount of significant attention, it will probably only be a matter of time before you have to admit that first plans might not have been the best plans and that changes need to be made.
But if you learn to be okay with the natural growth process, and don’t beat yourself up over every misstep, you can also learn how to enjoy the ride and maintain grace under pressure, every step of the way.
So on this Fourth of July let’s make a toast to our favorite startup – “Happy Birthday, America!”