Discipline does not always go hand in hand with entrepreneurship. The journey often necessitates a lot of scrappy, gut decisions, and founders aren’t known as a particularly regimented bunch. But discipline is what is needed to be a Tardigrade.
There are three aspects I would like to explore further in this article. The first is to know your no’s, The second is to not confuse activity with results and the third is to discern the important from the interesting.
Knowing your no’s
The drums of growth are constantly beating, and it is easy to fall victim. A Tardigrade is resolute. They know precisely what is needed for them to say yes to an opportunity. This applies to retail distribution, e-commerce spend, and even investment. A Tardigrade is prepared to say no to a retailer when any of the following are suboptimal: price point, merchandising or discovery. When CAC (customer acquisition cost) is too high, or ROAS (return on advertising spend) is too low, no is the Tardigrade's answer to an e-commerce opportunity. The hardest no is to pass on an investment. But a Tardigrade does it when the terms are too onerous, there isn’t alignment or the fit is just wrong.
It takes discipline to say no but doing so may be the most important thing you can do to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Not confusing activity with results
Not confusing activity with results can be nuanced and hard. Every entrepreneur I know is busy. They struggle to come up for breath and have almost no downtime. But, what if much of that busyness is caused by a lack of discipline? That’s what I see in most cases. Rather than focusing on results, we fill time with activity, much of it disconnected from desired outcomes.
This often manifests as a founder getting caught up in the minutia, agonizing over a presentation deck, setting up a Klaviyo flow or inserting themselves into an operations issue.
Tardigrade entrepreneurs don’t get sucked in. They remain singularly focused on results, understanding when to act and when not to. It is not busyness that delivers success; it’s effectiveness.
Discern the important from the interesting
Closely aligned with the above, Tardigrade founders can focus on what is vital to the business, not simply interesting. There are many cool things to explore as an entrepreneur, but there are only a few things truly important to long-term success. Tardigrades don’t suffer from “shiny thing” syndrome. They don’t get distracted by what is cool; they stay zeroed in on what is critical. Will this move the needle? Will this change the outcome? It is those kinds of questions that are asked before they engage in something new. They discern the important from the interesting.
Discipline isn’t sexy, and it is certainly not why most entrepreneurs start their businesses. But discipline wins, and Tardigrades know that to be true. So adopt a Tardigrade approach to discipline, and you’ll increase your chances of long-term success.
Elliot Begoun is the Principal of The Intertwine Group, a practice focused on helping emerging food and beverage brands grow.