There’s a good quote from Jim Rohn that goes, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I think that’s pretty accurate. And I think it can apply to companies and startups as well, with just a slight adjustment:
“Your company is the average of the five companies you pay most attention to.”
We compare our own companies to others in all sorts of ways.
- Other companies in our city.
- Our friends’ and acquaintances’ companies.
- Other companies that came out of our incubator.
- Other companies in our industry.
- The incumbent competition.
- Other companies in our investors’ portfolio.
- Other companies disrupting X.
- Other companies with X number of employees.
- Other companies founded X years ago.
Who you compare yourself to has a profound impact on your perspective:
Are you David or Goliath? Are you leading or falling behind? Are you the incumbent or the disruptor?
This perspective affects a company to the core. It determines how aggressive you are in hiring. How comfortable you are with risk and failure. How disruptive you are in marketing and pricing. Etc, etc, etc.
Are the companies you compare yourself to leveling you up or leveling you down? Do they challenge you and your company? Are they keeping you hungry?