For those curious about the title, it’s a reference to “downward facing dog”
(one of the most widely reognized yoga poses).
Is your startup practicing inward facing dog? That is, are you overly
focused on things going inside the company with too little attention on
what might be going on outside the company?
Signs That Your Startup Is Practicing Inward Facing Dog
1. More than a few days go by and you haven’t talked to a customer other
than to provide support or try to sell them something.
2. When people bring up things like “Did you hear about X (a direct
competitor) doing Y?” most of the time, you hadn’t heard the news and some of
the times, you didn’t even know who X was. Note: I don’t advocate being
obsessed about your competition — and I particularly don’t advise
following them (i.e. X did Y, so I have to do Y…). But, I think
there’s a lot that can be learned simply by observing your
3. You haven’t located 5 people in your industry whose blogs you think are
worth reading regularly. I don’t care what industry you’re in, there are
bloggers out there writing things you should be reading. Even if you disagree
with them. Even if you think your industry is “broken” and you’re out to
transform it. In fact, especially if you think your industry is
broken. Read, read, read.
4. You haven’t been to an industry conference in a couple of years (or
ever). Yes, budgets are tight, and most of the content from these things makes
it onto the web anyways, but it’s not about the content. Yes, it’s unlikely
you’re going to get a lot of customer leads. But, it’s not about those those
things. It’s about learning. It’s about the real-time, in-person
conversations. (This coming from an introvert — who hates real-time
5. You’re not watching the news about VC financings, acquisitions and IPOs
in your market (or adjacent markets). Even if you don’t plan on raising
funding. Even if your startup is going to crush everyone else, getting a sense
of how the money is flowing in your industry is important to know. What kinds
of companies are getting funded? Who is funding them? What other deals have
they done? Who is getting bought? You don’t need to get obsessed with this,
but just a quick scan once a week is well worth it.
6. You don’t meet with other startup founders that are at your stage — or
beyond. Though we founders like to believe that our situations are unique and
nobody else can possibly have the same kinds of challenges and problems
we do — it’s just not true. There are many, many patterns that continually
reoccur in startups. Even weird things that you think are too arcane to be
What other signs do you think there are that a startup is too inward
focused? What do you do to make sure you stay in touch with what’s going on
outside your four walls?