Sometimes blowing up a dam is the wrong metaphor for tackling a big problem. Sometimes the only way to tackle a big problem is to work on it methodically, bit by bit.
The analogy is chopping down a tree.
Not some little tree planted by the sidewalk to prettify the neighborhood, but instead like the trees that used to grow here in Seattle. 300 foot tall, 30 feet around (a.k.a. 100 meters tall, 10 meters around). Trees bigger than a house.
Most startups have issues to deal with that are of that scale. Big and scary from their bulk, not from their complexity.
The solution to those problems is easy and straightforward. Find a small piece to work on. Work on it. Find the next piece. Repeat.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. … Repeat.
Yes, this can be monotonous. But who said startup life is all excitement and glory?
In my latest startup, Fledge, I get to use this metaphor twice per year. My startup is looking to help the best startups, globally. Sure, we could just sit back and watch the applications flow in. We do a bit of that. But I also personally go looking for great startups. To do that, I read through thousands of startup profiles on sites like Enable Impact and VC4Africa.
It’s a daunting task, when at the start the site says there are 2,023 ventures, and I want to see them all. And it can be a bit mind numbing 5 hours later, nearing midnight, when I’m at #1,642. But bit by bit, profile by profile, ax stroke by ax stroke, the whole list gets reviewed, and what looked like a monstrous sized tree is just another completed item on the todo list.
Sometimes repeated tiny forces combined to create brute force.