8 Factors that Contribute to Your Venture’s Lift-Off Success

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Many startups are led to believe a company’s success is down to the time, effort (and often tears) it takes to build a trialled and tested product that has a majority share of the market.

I translate this to, a) the amount of time and effort spent on, b) utilising skills to, c) build an idea into a product, that, d) people want to buy, and that, e) is of a higher perceived value than your competitors, that, f) allows you to be the more significant player in the market.

Typically, you could say these are all business model milestones, which you’re most likely in the midst of proving to your investors (if you have any) that yours is working.

While a viable business model is critical, wouldn’t it be great, if all you needed to succeed in business was a proven business model? There are many stories of should-be successful startups that have not managed to scale or even survive.

From my experience of working in, with and from observing what great and not so great startups pay attention to, there are around half a dozen dependent variables that come into play and impact on the amount of success a venture generates and on the leaders capacity to successfully lead and positively impact the world.

There’s also what I call the “Chief Variable” that’s independent of every other variable but is always at play. What I’ve come to learn is that the more you understand each of these variables and the impact each has on your business, the more “understanding” these variables becomes a variable in itself. Meaning your understanding of these variables will also alter.

Confused? Let me briefly try to explain the seven dependent variables before I explain the main one (the chief) that influences all the others.

1. Where you’re starting out from

The amount of success you generate is going to be different if you’re a first-time CEO compared to an experienced serial entrepreneur. Unlike first-time CEO’s many of them are not able to benefit from their previous experience and network they’ve built along the way. What this means is that it might take a little longer for you to get to where you want to get to.

2. The amount of time and effort

There is a myth that the more time and effort you put into trying to make something a success, the more it’s going to work out in the long run. More time and effort working on the wrong thing means you’ve misjudged where your business is going to create the most value.

3. Your chosen business model

Investing time and effort in the having the right strategy and repeatable, scalable business model in place is another variable most startups wrestle with at different stages of their growth and with varying success rates. Many companies get help from business accelerator programmes or mentors to help with testing a model that will work for their customers and products.

4. How well you and your team execute

Developing a scalable and repeatable business model is only of any value if you are able to fully execute and deliver on what you have set out in your strategy.

How well you are able to execute not depends on the availability of resource both technical and management and how accessible finance is if you need an additional round of funding.

5. Your competition

Even with the right resources in place, your team spending the right about of time, working on the right strategy, there’s another variable at play. This is the skills it takes to lead a company and the skills along with the knowledge and experience in the company versus that of your competition.

6. The people you hire

People often say it’s cliche to say ‘your people are your biggest asset’. Which I stand by, but even more than that, your people and the ideas they execute are your biggest competitive advantage. However, how “on their game” your people are when in the office fully depends on the Chief Variable Officer we’re yet to cover.

7. Unpredictability

Chance, serendipity, synchronicity, convergence or fluke whatever you want to label it, is the last of these seven factors to mention. I mention it last because it’s a variable you can’t plan for, can’t predict or even guess. It doesn’t matter how many hours you invest in creating predictable business systems sometimes unforeseen things happen.

8. The Chief Variable

The Chief Variable can either hinder or help you in your company’s pursuit. It aces and impacts everything we have already spoken about so far in this article. When you’re under pressure to perform, it can make or break the day, and even the quarter you’re having.

This Chief Variable impacts on how well you prioritise your day, the decisions you make, how well you execute, how well you utilise your skills and how creative you are with addressing resource gaps. It also interferes with how well you cooperate and collaborate with other people, and how well you flow and adapt to changing market, economic or other conditions. As well as your general wellness and how ‘well’ you feel.

The chief variable is the “Quality of your State of Mind (SoM)” at any given moment.

Why does SoM matter?

The quality of your state of mind in any given moment has a direct impact on the results you, your team and your company produces. It creates a ripple effect all around you.

Let me give you an example:

You know when you’re in a high-level quality state of mind because in those moments, everything seems to work. You have a high-level of presence, clarity and fresh thinking. And in these moments, you’re like a popping candy machine. Full of emerging ideas, energy and the resourcefulness and productivity. You make decisions that seem to work out in your favour, or if not, you just know what to do. You also find a flow-ness when communicating, engaging and working with others. And to top it off you feel fantastic. You’re like a vessel, and everything is flowing through you like a rocket with a destination, and you’re on target. Because of this, your investors are pleased with your efforts and word is getting out. Customers are coming and bringing their troops and employees want to work for you. Business and life feel good!

In a low-level quality state of mind, it looks and feels entirely different. Nothing seems to be working as it should, you think your people are not working hard enough, investors are asking questions, you’re grinding all day and can’t see when you’re going to get a break. You never know quite what to say, you and your co-founders are barely speaking, and there’s an unspoken tension in the air. It’s affecting your ability to focus, innovate and you feel like throwing the towel in.

Sticky plaster solutions

You may not even recognise you are in a low-level quality of mind. You will most likely be looking at the things and circumstances outside of you as the causes for you feeling the way you do. If you sense it’s more culture-wide, you’ll also most probably be thinking of bringing in a speaker to run a resiliency, mindfulness or mental first-aid workshop or yoga classes. You might even share a book or TED talk or have wellbeing ‘sleep-pod’ corners, free massages, vegetable patches, bring your dog to work or office ping-pong.

While these can ease the symptoms, and in some cases can be quite fun, they are not the real solution. In the long term, they’ll not help with workplace stress or with building a thriving future-ready culture, or with motivating your high-performers. None of this is long-lasting, none of this is sustainable, and I’m guessing most of it is probably sinking your profits.

The truth

If you want to realise your own and your team’s purpose, make a profit while saving the planet, you need to get to the heart, the source. With so many new fads and workplace gimmicks, I can see how easy it is to get sidetracked.

However, it’s no surprise to say, borrowed ideas don’t last as they often weren’t meant for you. That’s the issue with advice, even with good intention. It was useful for the person or the person in the company who had the insight but not then to be packaged up as the lastest thing that will solve all your business woes.

My only advice for those reading this article is to listen to your insight, not mine. Yours will be just right for you, your team and your company. Listen with awareness, with presence rather than borrow someone else’s intelligence.

Practice self-inquiry and cultivate your inner ears so that you know when to move forward on your purpose, and when not too. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you don’t know, especially when the stakes seem so high.

Spend time wondering and soul-searching, wondering how you will solve your next problem, wondering if the problem actually exists. Wondering when the next breakthrough will come. Wondering what change you really what to make. Wondering what needs to change.

Wondering by being aware. Aware of your experience through self-inquiry. Inquiry into the self by being present and seeing what’s real, what’s the truth and acting from that place.

Through presence, awareness, wondering and accessing your intuition you will find you have a higher capacity for insights and ideas and a deep knowing of what direction to take next and enough inspiration to get you there.

But don’t just read what I have to say, listen to the richest man in the world Jeff Bezos, CEO and Founder, Amazon talking to David M. Rubenstein president of the Economic Club of Washington, Thursday, September 13, 2018


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