First Mover Strategy: Moving Fast Without Damaging Your Startup

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In a recent blog I posted in 7startup insights, we discussed some of the key reasons why moving fast isn’t always the best way to get to the top. First mover strategy is required when trying to become the first player in a market, not just speed.

First Mover Advantage Strategy

Poor ownership, leadership, lack of communication, and a multitude of other reasons often lead to a startup that’s moving fast to fail. 

There are, however, important steps to complete to maximise your chances of success if you are looking for first-mover advantage:

Identify All Key Stakeholders

Identify key stakeholders

After you’ve discovered an issue or an opportunity, the first step should be determining who in your team needs to be involved and why. It may be inconvenient to involve certain people. There will always be a temptation to involve fewer people and move more quickly. But involving the correct people will guarantee that not only is the problem adequately diagnosed. It also that the largest range of remedies is presented.

Enrol People Into Your Project

Some founders think that their teams never seemed to put in their fair share of effort and always seemed to hold back when working on a project. 

When trying to understand why your team may not be working to their full capacity, it is important to sit down with the team leader and understand what they need from you to assist them. 

The team leader will appreciate your concern and will outline why efficiency may not be at its required level. 

This may be that they were very short on resources, not enough manpower, or even that the agreed time period was not a reasonable allocation.

This not only helps you understand what you need to do for them in order to maximise output but also helps create a stronger bond and respect between each other.

Upon making these required changes to assist the team, you will most likely see their demeanour improve dramatically. You now share the same aim. Allowing you both to work closely on future initiatives together to help the company grow.

Communicate Often Using the Right Channels

channels of communication

Once you’ve identified the appropriate stakeholders, make sure they’re all receiving the same information, at the same time, and through the appropriate channels. For some folks, an email or Slack message may be enough.

Make sure, however, that when you ask someone to do something, they expressly agree to your request. Whether in writing or in person. 

Don’t expect them to agree just because you sent them five emails (see below). Over-communicate over various channels, according to a basic rule of thumb.

Understand People’s Motivations

A variety of motives motivate people: fear, ambition, greed, their spouse, a promotion, money, and so forth. The better you understand a person’s motivations, the easier it will be to assist them in assisting you.

The trick is that you might have to step outside of your comfort zone to figure out what motivates them. Instead of assuming this individual was merely unwilling to assist him.

As a founder,  if you’ve realised you had never spent any real quality time getting to know your team’s motivation. Try inviting your team out to socialise. You’ll get to know them better and understand their motives. Overnight, you may see the situation begin to shift.

Focus on Agreements, Not Expectations

Agreements are everything

One of the most common concerns that founders often get frustrated by is, “I expected him to do this by Friday, but he didn’t.”However, did that individual verbally or otherwise commit to complete that work by Friday?. People don’t always agree on things. Which is one of the biggest issues in business, especially when you fail to enrol others or communicate correctly.

Make sure you specifically agree to items with employees you rely on the next time you’re in a meeting. If they won’t agree, make a counteroffer and make an effort to understand their reasoning. Moving forward requires agreements rather than expectations.

The most essential thing I learned from my personal coach and mentor was that sometimes you have to slow down in order to accelerate up. Although this is true in every business, it is especially true in startups, where time, people, and money are your most valuable assets.


Make sure you entrust the right people with your plans and ensure they have the sufficient resources to get the job done at a high level. This will help you on the way to achieving the first-mover advantage. The first mover strategy can often be a high-risk high-reward strategy. This can often lead to careless mistakes. Being so focused on becoming the first in a market can easily cause you to rush over crucial moments in your startup life-cycle. That in the end, spell the downfall of a startup.


Amit Khanna

Amit Khanna, 7startup Founder


Amit has 18 years of experience in the industry and an MBA. He supports entrepreneurs with every aspect of their business including concept and product development, investor presentations, and fundraising. Amit & 7startup assist startups in the pre due-diligence process and help connect them to our vast network of investors. Reach out to us today and see if we’re a fit!

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