Be a Warrior
Business is a battlefield. We need to think like warriors. There are many forces at work that want you to fail. The only way to protect against failure is to set your battlefield plan in advance, execute, and be prepared for agility as the theater changes real-time. I was talking to some friends recently about a business idea and the challenges with getting it off the ground. Rather than talking about the specific business, I put on a "warrior" hat and reflected as follows:
We need think like warriors and create a battlefield plan in such a way that we have the best advantage possible. Here are the standards we need to establish:
- Establish Clear Leadership -- Every battle plan has a general, and war time requires unambiguous leadership. Start-ups often keep it loose on leadership but that just creates confusion. Find your general.
- Bring Supply Lines in Proximity to the Battlefield -- Start your business in close proximity to where you will deliver the value. It's the best way to learn quickly and increase the probability of success. Whether a technology or service company, getting as physically close to your customers early is key.
- Give Troops an Environment to Succeed -- The culture of the organization at the earliest stages cannot be overstated. It is essential that everyone is connected to a bigger purpose to withstand the ups and downs of getting a business off the ground.
- Make Sure the Fight is Worth it -- What's the victory? How big is the payoff? It takes tremendous energy to go into the battle of business so make sure the intended impact is commensurate with the effort that is being invested. You can't fight multiple fronts at one time. Be choosy.
- Establish your Allies Early -- Nothing beats the right early customers, advisors, or partners around the table. Allies can create an advantage and accelerate learning.
- Play on Turf Where you Have a Strategic Advantage -- Are you in a business where you have a clear advantage over the competition? There are many ways to gain advantage (cost, geography, intellectual property). What's yours?
Great warriors are not guaranteed success but they are patient in making sure they don't give up an advantage just to expedite the fight. Make sure you have conviction that the the rules of the battlefield can slant to your favor before entering battle. It will save a lot of the early setbacks.