Don’t aim. Execute

Zefram Cochrane is the first human to create a warp drive. In doing so, his first warp speed flight got the attention of a passing Vulcan scout ship that made first contact with humans. The rest is Star Trek history.

Classic Roddenberry. A lesson is always buried in there somewhere. The aim wasn’t first contact but by executing properly that was the outcome.

Business is no different — non-fiction business that is.

During the heady days of the dotcom era, companies aimed for large funding rounds and IPOs. Those seemed to be the goal. Worry about the business fundamentals after was the mantra. We all know how that turned out.

Building a great business means the team needs to be executing on all levels. Product has found its market fit. Sales are pulling in customers. Marketing has honed its brand proposition. Customers are happy and growing. Conversion is high. Retention is high. Employees have found their groove.

The outcome of this could be funding or it could be an acquisition or it simply could be a great and growing business. Those are outcomes of the work. Those outcomes open possibilities.

At one of my companies we somehow took aim at a round of funding as a North Star. It crept into the conversation everywhere and all of a sudden it was every single employees first question. We were tripling our key metrics year over year, executing on all fronts yet still the anchor was that we hadn’t closed the round of funding. To the team, we had failed. To the rest of the community and to our current investors, we were executing at an incredibly high level.

We were aiming at something that we had no control over. The only way to control funding is to execute in the business. You can’t simply aim your ship to the moon and hope you get there. If you are off by the slightest amount you will end up in deep space and in deep shit.

Operators know that the collective of the team and the outcome from that team is what propels companies. Focusing on elevating that level opens doors and puts everyone in a position to be discovered.

Execute to get to orbit. Do that and discovery — in whatever form that may be — has a better chance of happening. Nothing is a guarantee other than aiming without executing is an equation for failure.