It is hard to work with early-stage entrepreneurs and not find oneself constantly advising folks to just act. Just make the next call, schedule the next meeting, do the next thing on the to do list. In early stage ventures momentum is a magic ingredient, and getting momentum more often than not requires taking action. After all the very thought of starting something implies actually doing; not just thinking or talking or planning. And yet I couldn’t help but be struck recently by a sign hanging in the home of a friend that offered the exact opposite instruction.
I was approached recently by a friend asking for advice about how to deal with a particularly passive-aggressive customer who was hoping my friend would reduce her consulting rate after the fact – but only “…if she felt her work wasn’t worth the original estimate.” My friend was understandably upset and confused. Did this mean the customer felt the work she delivered was inferior, or over-priced, or was he simply fishing for a deal. In the end, she chose not to take responsibility for his passive aggressive inquiry and simply stood firm on her invoice.
Focus is one of the most important requirements for any start-up enterprise to succeed. Sounds simple enough, right — but anybody who has ever been in a start-up recognizes there are always more things to do than time to do them. And often the tyranny of the urgent overtakes the discipline of strategic execution.
In 2004 I had the good fortune of being part of the small team that created a company called FindawayWorld, and brought to market a revolutionary digital audio product called Playaway (www.playaway.com). As Founder and President, I watched the company grow from an idea into an Inc 500 success story; from three guys above a small liquor store to 100+ associates in a bustling office and manufacturing facility; from a company losing money to one making millions.