In the course of founding a new company, an entrepreneur can get lost in the day-to-day minutiae of his company to the surprising detriment of the company.
While day-to-day operations are important, the entrepreneur first has to work "on" his company rather than "in" his company.
That's actually a profound thought. It almost seems counterintuitive to some. You just have to think about it for a while to get it. Better yet, live as an entrepreneur for a while and you will see it is the only way.
Why? Because extracting optimum value from a company means you have to work on the business side of business, not the technical side.
Empires are not built by the laborer working away at all the minutia. Instead, they are created by the visionary leaders who never take their eye off the ball.
It is easy to get caught in the human issues (and all that portends): the bookkeeping, the widget-making, the coding, the engineering, etc.
Soon, after too much time spent in the trenches, or perhaps too much time sequestered in a corner or cubicle, the entrepreneur can begin to think a lot of petty issues are actually important. Sometimes they may be urgent, but are they important?
What is important? What are the overarching goals? I have given this a lot of thought. What are the end goals through which we can filter all of the consumption of time, money and resources?
I think there are two overarching goals for any enterprise: Creating an ever-greater product or service that changes the world and/or industry, and driving shareholder value to wealth-creating liquidity. If you succeed at achieving these two goals, you will be lauded a hero. Fail at either of them, and you will be considered a charlatan, a tricky financier, or an incompetent executive.
We can be reasonably sure that we are on the right track if we measure any activity, any expenditure, any resource utilization against the filter of these goals and the indicators say, "We are headed in the right direction, let's keep going."
Give it a try at your next meeting. Let everyone think this same way. See if it does not provide a laser focus for the startup company to be so tunnel-versioned on these two goals.
I have been around entrepreneurs who have amassed monolithic fortunes from their stock value in their once-little companies. What has been the common connection between them all?
They went after these goals with a vengeance, and let nothing stand in their way.
This entrepreneurship gig is not for the faint of heart. It's for the knights of the new entrepreneurial era in which we find ourselves. It is for those who will grab the brass ring and remember that it is about creating and being the best and then measuring that success by the market valuation of your enterprise.
Not only does this apply to the CEO/founder of a business, but every employee, consultant, and stakeholder involved in a startup business. All egos must be checked at the door, all personal agendas put aside, and a unified march toward these end goals must be undertaken.
There really is no time for pettiness and chasing waste-of-time distractions. We must be willing to subordinate what we want now for what we want later. That is the way to success.Work "on" your business by relentlessly pursuing these two goals, and you will find that the minor issues even your funding challenges will be overcome with relative ease.
John E. Richards is associate director of the BYU Center for Entrepreneurship. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]