Why Opportunity Bows to Execution…
Yesterday, I had a short but inspired dialogue with my assistant.
She sent me an article on Unicorn companies — you know, those behemoths who score billion dollar valuations. But are still in low-asset, high venture capital growth mode.
Amazon was there once. Living negative cashflow for years.
But Mr Bezos ain’t no clown. He figured out that every technology and physical asset they created, could be leveraged to the masses.
S3, their storage systems, drives trillions of bits of data for hundreds of thousands of companies, including mine.
Warehouses? Yup, those too. We ship both incoming inventory and outgoing finished, custom product via Amazon’s incredible infrastructure.
But I digress.
Here’s the deal: every day you are presented with opportunities. Some of us see lots of them thrown across the bow of our respective ships.
Maybe 30% of them have real potential. Maybe 2% would be worth the time to explore.
But regardless, it’s not opportunity that is stopping our respective success. It’s not the new new thing that has come between you and your private island.
In the VC/startup world, there’s a term thrown around called “the pivot”. Coined by a truly talented startup guru, the term basically means an incremental shift in strategy or tactic.
It’s not a major overhaul in one big, swing for the fences plan. It’s little, measurable, incremental changes that, hopefully, solve the big problem of serving the right customer with the right need at the right time, who are willing to pay the right price.
Now, back to you and me.
Wherever you are right now, you can make that incremental shift in your life. In your position. In your business.
Yeah, I know: you’ve only got 27 years left until retirement. Why rock the boat, right?
Because: it’s the right thing to do.
For you: because high contribution trumps a cog in the wheel life any day. Every day.
Because it could very well save your business. Or, maybe more significantly, create a new one.
And lastly, it could accelerate your retirement from tomorrow to today. (Or, as Tim Ferriss might say, “ it could give you the lifestyle that makes retirement obsolete.”)
For those intellectuals in the group, you may recall reading a little storybook in your Masters classes called The Goal. Eli Goldratt, a physics prof, penned this genius guide.
In it, we learn about The Theory of Constraints. About how there are limiting factors hiding in plain sight all throughout your life and business. And by making incremental changes, opening up a single bottleneck, two things happen:
1) You improve throughput. Which translates to shipping more stuff (and yes, this also translates just as well to bits and bytes as it does to packages). Shipping more means mo money. And…
2) You find the next bottleneck in your operation. Which was hiding behind the first bottleneck you fixed (see #1, above).
Now, applied to your life, position and business, these approaches can and will change your life.
Oh, and a caution: they may also get you fired. (Yes, more than once I have put myself at risk for discovering and then trying to implement a fix to a major bottleneck. Some people don’t like that. Some companies and management use the bottlenecks to hide problems and money and their position within the company. I urge you to take the risk. It’s way more fun to do something cool, than to know it’s broken and sit in your hands. I know. I’ve done both.)
So: opportunity or execution? What’ll it be?
You gonna’ go try one more business idea? Get one more job?
Or are you going to look at your current business or career with new goggles. And fix what’s broken?
I say, opt for the latter.
But then again, I’m still living on the mainland. So what do I know?
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ADDENDUM: I have notebooks going back to 1985, when I started my first real business.
Those notebooks are chock-full of ideas, strategies, tactics, plans, business models, notes, and creative expression.
Whenever I feel really stuck. Whatever I am doing is not feeling good. Not paying off, I grab a couple notebooks and start paging through.
In them, I find old ideas that have ready been implemented by billion dollar companies.
As well as ideas you find at the check stand for 99¢.
Even ideas that make no sense.
But what I get from those notebooks is hope.
I realize I will never be very far from a good idea. From a viable opportunity.
That kernel of knowledge gives me hope. Hope that I won’t ever find myself wandering the streets with nothing to do.
And, I might just find the solution to my problem within those pages.
Just thinking out loud here.