On the last evening of the Reinvention Forum I invited John Song, serial entrepreneur, founder of 7 ventures and current founder ofLift9to share his story. John is an exceptionally humble man who I met a few months ago at a Bellevue tweetup. Since then I've been following him on Twitter and reading his blog.
During our first conversation and again a couple months later over a bowl of noodles in downtown Bellevue I was inspired by John's take on the importance of people and timing to success in business.
Last night at the Forum John passionately exhorted the attendees and I to embrace re-invention as a way of being, something all of us do, throughout our life times.
Being a human involves a certain amount of faith and a never ending commitment to change, improvement and reinvention. John recounted his journey through seven start-ups and shared how timing; both good and bad impacted the outcomes of each of his ventures. With a resume that includes; venture funded tech goes public to retail car start-up not so hot, John confided that timing played a huge part in which of his ventures succeeded and which failed.
John pointed out that sometimes us entrepreneurs are fighting a battle we can't win: timing, market trends and reality. We dig our own grave, working harder and harder thinking success is just around the next 100 hour week when in reality we are so deep in the forrest we can't see that we have veered dangerously off course, the market has changed, opportunity has vanished or the resources we have are inadequate for the battle we have chosen.
I was reminded of Seth Godin's book the Dip. In it Godin explains the difference between a dip and a cul- de- sac. Sometimes all that is needed is a little more work; people; resources and other times we we are in a dead end and the sooner we turnaround and quit the better! Winners do quit. They quit things that don't work. Fast, so that they can start or join something else!
If you want to succeed the first thing you have to ask yourself is; timing with you? Are you in sync with the marketplace, ahead of it or behind, fighting a red ocean full of competitors or sailing in wide open waters in which you are highly differentiated?
If timing is with you, the next question to ask is do you have the abilities, talent and knowledge to win the battle you've taken on, the venture you've entered, the game you are playing? Clearly it's easier to have an A team if you take a company public and sell it for a treasure chest of cash. But what if you're a bootstrapping entrepreneur?
Evaluate your venture and the timing – if the timing is right perhaps you can ask an A team member to play for equity, sit on an advisory board or mentor you? If not, why not consider joining an A team which is working on a venture that aligns with your passion and purpose? I don't know about you but I'm more committed to being on an A team right now than swimmming solo or rounding up a bunch of people who can't possibly get us across this white water.
Community- team matters- don't swim alone; especially now.
I've also made the mistake of thinking all I needed to do was to work harder when in reality what I really needed was to look up and read the hand writing on the wall and quit fast and move to a venture that had A people and timing going for it.
The key is to be aware, keep your eyes open. Look at every opportunity that crosses your path and actively engage with the A team members you meet- explore opportunities.
You never know when the timing and people will appear that offer you the chance of a lifetime. The right people make all the difference
Business Success; Timing and People