Startup Awards Don’t Equal Success

Last week I was joking to a group that our approach to startup awards at Pardot was straightforward: no award was beneath us. Want to recognize us as a fast growing company? We’ll take it. Want to recognize us as a great place to work? We’ll take it. Want to recognize us as the coolest company between 50 and 200 employees in the Southeast in the marketing technology category with a six letter dot com domain name? We’ll take it.

Startup awards are plentiful and a popular element of the community. Publications use awards as a way to generate content and put on events. Non-profits and community groups use awards as a way to annually celebrate local startups and entrepreneurs. Recognizing success and accomplishments also acts as inspiration for the next generation that want to see their name in lights.

Only, as an entrepreneur, it’s critical to remember that startup awards don’t equal success. With all the challenges that come with entrepreneurship, there’s a strong desire to seek external validation. By winning this award, I must be doing something right. Only, it’s too easy to internalize awards as a credible sign of progress. We won this award therefore our startup is going to succeed is not true.

Awards are fun and exciting.

Awards are not success.

Startup success is only bestowed by customers — not by mentors, investors or media. Customers decide where to spend their budget and whether or not a product is useful. The market decides, not the media.

Accept startup awards with a smile and stay focused on the customer.

One thought on “Startup Awards Don’t Equal Success

  1. I once worked with a ad tech in London That won a few awards. Somehow, it seem to help us in two ways.

    I noticed that I got the impression people treated us more seriously once we had one a couple of awards versus none. Maybe it was the idea that we seemed to be sticking around.

    The other, was that it seemed to compound on itself. We got invited to more and more award applications and events, etc. Which was great for promoting the Company.

    I see here what you mean is to not focus on it and just accept it as it comes.

    Have you noticed either of these two situations being true elsewhere?

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