As you think about the potential paths you can take as you build your business, you have to start with an honest assessment of how you’ll define success.
I’m not talking about revenue, or scale, or profitability. I’m talking about how you personally will define success in terms of the personal impact on the life you live.
Are you trying to build a global company that reaches the farthest corners of the earth? Or are you building something that you hope someday spans the eastern half of your state? Is your dream to have tens of thousands of employees? Or does 100 seem like too many?
Are you willing to make the personal sacrifices it takes to hop on the venture capital train and run as fast as you can through the stages of product-market fit and scaling? Or do you have a family at home, and having time to spend with them is critically important to you?
The goal is to optimize for the journey, and not just the potential outcome.
There is a formula I’ve been thinking about as I advise founders on early decision making around the company they are hoping to build.
The scale of your company
the speed at which you desire to attain it
potential for balance and happiness in your personal life
As you change the inputs for each of these variables, you change the potential outcome of your venture along with the impact the effort can have on you personally.
Of the three inputs, it’s the ‘speed’ at which you must scale that can have the greatest impact on you personally. It can turn the building of your company from a sustainable marathon to an exhausting sprint.
This is one of the most important trade-offs you make when you raise venture capital, which requires high rates of growth yet typically funds you just long enough to get to the next set of milestones that are only 18-24 months away.
As your company reaches various inflection points, take the time to take a step back and define what success looks like for you. Not for your company. Not in terms of what will most impress your friends and colleagues. But for you personally.
Define success for your company. But do so in a way that aligns with your definition of what defines success for you personally. This will help you optimize your approach to make the most of the journey you are embarking on.