Why I am always trumped with ‘where do you see yourself 5 years from now?’
“Where do you see the company 5 years from now?”
This question is thrown in my face quite often, and I bet, it’s the same for any other entrepreneur. Most of the times, the expected response is blue-sky thinking accompanied by big dollar signs or acquiring bazillion of users/clients. A vision so bold that the entire organization is compelled to believe it and follow their leader into the promised land.
I don’t have a coherent answer that checks all points off the ‘smart business plan’ list. It’s not that I’m dumb. Neither I’m averse to big numbers, more employees, more users/clients or whatever other metrics through which one defines a company’s growth or domination. Honestly, who would be? But, is that the sole framework of gauging the success of a company?
I think not.
So does that make me less of a leader? Is it required that your goal always be tied to dollars and cents? What if one doesn’t have the vision of the future in revenue numbers and the number of people?
The question of revenue growth makes my mind go blank, and ties up my tongue in knots. All I feel like doing is shrugging off my shoulders with the proverbial ‘Fuck that shit’.
I don’t believe in these glorified so-called indicators of future because most of the times these numbers are extrapolated by compounding a certain percentage of growth every year, similar to what we call “Vaporware” in software.
There are so many uncontrollable variables in play that it’s really hard to guess whether you would meet them or not. The entire model is based on a mere probability. And I don’t think it’s right to create a reality distortion field around that probability. Some leaders may be good at doing that, I’m not.
That’s the reason why neither my leadership team nor I have ever taken a revenue goal since starting. Yes, ever. Not that we are complacent, or are merely happy-go-lucky kind of people. But, we don’t want to run the business on conjectures or gauge the success of the company with our bank balance.
Instead, we focus on our client’s happiness and people’s happiness. That is our goal. And it’s not that we always achieve it. We have our fair share of fuck-ups and failure stories. But, we try again. Because these are variables that we can control.
So we have a vision for the future where we would have NPS of 100% from both clients and our people. A pipe dream, definitively. But, a worthy one. Because the quality of service, the experience for the partners and the employees should be the heart and soul of a company. It is its purpose.
And when one creates a vision aligned with the purpose then fancy spreadsheets, and the knowledge of calculus are not required to figure out ‘where would you be’ 5 years from now.