Any new and innovative concept faces misunderstanding for disrupting the status quo. Change is hard. People are attached to the way things are and anyone offering a new solution to solve an old or existing problem is sure to face pushback to prevent change. If you’re pioneering something new or innovative, you better stay mentally resilient and be prepared to face resistance. In fact, I’m not aware of a single category creator that didn’t meet resistance along the way.
Uber, when pioneering ridesharing, faced resistance from the taxi establishment. Tesla, when introducing electric vehicles at scale, was resisted by the car dealer network. In fact, many people mocked electric vehicles for many years, assuming they wouldn’t be fast enough, have enough range, or be affordable enough, but now not only are they adopted and embraced by society, many states require that certain emission requirements are met as a result of the EV movement. My former company, Dotloop, and a similar technology, DocuSign, were resisted for many years by banks, title companies, notaries, and real estate agents, as most people thought that e-signatures were not secure or legal.
My current company, Pacaso, is also the subject of resistance. Our competition is the traditional second home, which is usually a single-family house that sits empty for most of the year. Pacaso takes eight buyers and puts them in one luxury home that is used year round, rather than having those eight buyers purchase eight median-priced homes that sit empty for most of the year. It’s like carpooling for homes. For buyers, this makes second home ownership more accessible by lowering ownership costs and reducing hassle through a fully managed owner experience. For communities, co-ownership means less competition for single family homes, more spending at local businesses, and more tax revenue. Sounds like a win-win, right? It should come as no surprise that not everyone agrees.
If you’re a part of a category creating movement, here are a few pieces of advice that I’ve found to be helpful in the face of resistance:
1. Stay true to the mission.
If you’ve created your mission to solve a problem that’s transformative to help society in a meaningful way, stay true to that. Expect skepticism and remember why you’re doing it.
Those skeptics of Pacaso I told you about? They are vocal and effective at creating fear and uncertainty, but ultimately what they’re defending is a broken and wasteful model of traditional second- home ownership. We’re on the right side of history and co-ownership is part of the solution to the housing crisis in destination communities around the world.
2. Remain laser focused on your customer and the long term goals.
Keep the customer as your North Star. Invest in data and insights to understand what the customer wants. Often with a new concept, it’s hard to get the customer to articulate what it is they’re looking for in the ideal future state, so you have to be innovative. This is an opportunity for you to paint a picture for the future and inspire them about an innovative tomorrow. Don’t get caught up in the noise, because every challenge is an opportunity and if you serve your customers well, the rest will take care of itself.
When we launched Pacaso at the beginning of 2020, it felt like the worst time to start a company focused on luxury second homes. After all, who was going to buy a luxury second home in the middle of a global pandemic? We knew our customers would ultimately see value in our co-ownership model–we just didn’t anticipate how quickly it would happen. As it turns out, lockdowns and work from home fueled demand for second homes and our timing couldn’t have been better. Most companies have to grind on this for years before finding product market fit. We were fortunate to have found it in a few months.
3. Communicate proactively and remain transparent.
Remember what I said about skeptics creating fear and uncertainty? You have to get ahead of the “myth curve” so that people are equipped to see through any misconceptions from the get-go. It’s wise to lead with the numbers, the data, and the facts. I’ve also found it helpful to form partnerships and alliances with fellow leaders and community members in your space. If you’re truly pursuing a mission that makes the world a better place, you’ll find a lot of common ground with other constituents in the community.
At Pacaso, most of our early customers understood the benefits of our model intuitively, right from the get-go. For others, it takes time and education. That’s why we are focused on making sure people understand the facts and how we can benefit their community. In using data, we’re able to paint a clearer picture that our mission is in fact solving a problem. EBP, a leading economic research firm, found in its report that the average second home is used just 11 percent of the year, while the average Pacaso home is occupied nearly 90 percent of the year.
The larger the impact of your mission, the more resistance you’re likely to face. If you find yourself in this position, embrace the struggle, because every challenge is an opportunity.