In the Marvel Universe, every hero has one superpower they are best known for. According to Comic Basics, the top 10 traditional superhero powers are: flight, invisibility, shapeshifting, healing, super speed, super strength, underwater control, telekinesis, elemental control and mind control. Of all the superheroes, the most well-known and recognized is Superman. At one time or another, we have all imagined what it would be like to be able to leap buildings in a single bound, use our x-ray vision and super strength to defeat evil forces and save the world.
We have superheroes in the business world, too. They’re better known as startup founders. Their superpower may not allow them to see through walls, but it’s still impressive. As a founder, your superpower is something you can do better than anyone else without even trying. Like superheroes, we typically have more than one, but in truth, there’s one that defines us. It’s the one thing we know ourselves to be able to inhabit fully.
My superpower is making fuzzy things clear. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it turns out that getting clear on what you do and who you do it for is not that easy. I can help founders translate their vision into clear, concise marketing messaging in four weeks. Because speed is the fuel of every startup, it matters in business as much as it does in Marvel comics. Clarity means that you’re able to communicate your unique value proposition so simply and directly that everyone gets it. Best of all, your ideal client wants it, sees the value in it and will pay a premium for it.
What is your superpower worth?
As women entrepreneurs, we have many superpowers. But unlike Superman, who stands tall with a big S on his chest, we often minimize our powers, and as a result, we underestimate their value and often charge too little for our services. After all, if it comes so easily to us, how much can we really charge for it? I’ve learned to reframe the question. When it’s easy for us but not for others, that’s their intrinsic value. Like the superheroes that we are, we should stand tall, embrace our gifts and let them shine for everyone to see.
There’s another side to using our superpowers, and it’s so simple that it’s often overlooked by women entrepreneurs. We tend to take on too many superpowers, even the ones we don’t fully own. This means we spend a lot of time learning skills that others already possess. This leads to wearing all the hats in our businesses. In the early days of a startup, multi-tasking makes sense, but the sooner we can let go, the faster we can scale. Think of legal, bookkeeping, accounting, IT, marketing, branding and sales, to name a few. These are the pillars that will build a sustainable company, one that will allow the founder to use her gifts to the fullest.
Startups scale faster when founders know their limits.
Wearing all the hats is unsustainable and leads to burnout. Here are three indicators that you’re not making room for your superpower to shine.
1. How many hats are too many? Wearing more than five hats means that you’re juggling too many responsibilities. With that many balls in the air, you’re bound to drop one. Take inventory of your business and be honest with yourself. Which hat can you hand off to someone with deeper skills and more experience than you?
2. Is your business running you? “No one does it as well as me” is a common reason that founders use to keep wearing all the hats. But if you’re spending all your time managing the day-to-day of your business, who’s growing your business? Founders need time to develop a business strategy, oversee brand and marketing efforts and build their team of superheroes.
3. Identify your superpower. Once you’ve let go and built your team, you can focus on your true superpower. Maybe it’s networking, building relationships and partnerships, or maybe it’s creating a culture that will take your company to the next level. As you become more comfortable with letting go, you can give your own superpower the room it needs to grow.
A vision of blue skies
A founder’s primary role is to bring her vision to life and be the company’s North Star. That’s why Simon Sinek believes it’s time to change the non-descript title of CEO (Chief Executive Officer) to CVO (Chief Vision Officer). Every founder I’ve ever worked with is a visionary. They started their company because they saw a problem they could solve, a pain that could be alleviated or a need that should be fulfilled. Visionaries like all creative people, need time and space to innovate. That’s where the next great idea will come from. When you’re wearing all the hats, your business is running you and there’s no time for blue-sky thinking. And that’s what leads to innovation.
The Marvel franchise is worth nearly $23B. What is your superpower worth?