A lone unicorn doesn’t totally eschew the company of other unicorns. Oh, no! When injustice reigns, unicorns shoot energy from their horns and other unicorns come to fight injustice, also with horn-energy, and stompings.
Unicorns are also totally fine with outsourcing things to other unicorns. Little-known fact: all unicorns know each other. So they have wide networks. But they also like to make rainbows all by themselves. They have discovered that when many unicorns collaborate to make a rainbow, the rainbows take fucking forever to get done.
My friend’s hiring problem reminded me of a similar story I told in Bullish: Starting A Business When You’re Broke – I was passed over for a Director of Marketing job at a twelve-person startup in favor of a woman who came from a corporate marketing background. During her nine week trial period, she made a Powerpoint presentation. Full stop.
When they fired her and called me back in, this Powerpoint became mine. I ignored it. It was basically a bunch of charts and bullet points on the topic of how we would market ourselves if we had a lot more people and a lot more money. Not helpful.
Instead, I set about organizing mixers (hint: if you bring paying customers into a bar, you don’t have to pay the bar to hold an event) and organizing online contests (marketing budget: one $100 Amex gift card). I wrote in Bullish: How to Sell Without Selling about the value of speaking and event planning in getting clients to come to you.
Being a lone unicorn is a typical and useful state of being for freelancers and entrepreneurs. But it can also boost you up in small, flexible companies – if I have to lay off almost everybody, I’m going to keep the person who can work alone, and if I have limited money for raises, I’m going to allocate it towards the person who will produce the most for the money.
I also wrote in Bullish: How to Run Your Career Like a Business about being an “intrapreneur,” a person who starts a new division or income stream within an existing company. (I write all the time about the value of pitching things – keep this on your radar even if you work at a 9-to-5.) To a pack animal, intrapreneurship seems like a lot of responsibility and risk! And who would tell you how to do it?
To a lone unicorn, this seems like the perfect setup – all the resources handed to you to have an entrepreneurial experience, and the only risk is to your reputation (rather than your credit). To someone who can function independently, that’s the kind of risk one needs to take at least every couple of years.