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Founder's Corner #1: May The Support Be With You
In honor of Thunder’s first newsletter, I’m devoting my first Founder’s Corner post to something I often tell people who are starting their first business (I think there’s a theme emerging here).
When starting a new business or any venture, it’s imperative to surround yourself with people and personal behavior that supports you and your vision 100%. Sounds easy, but in reality we tolerate a lot of people and personal behavior that are not in complete support of what we’re creating. A new business takes a lot of focus. There is no room for conversations and ideas that aren’t in support of our goal.
Here’s an example from a friend who started his first property management company a few years back. He had been talking about starting his own business for many years prior (I knew this well from our conversations). It seemed that Life gave him an extraordinary opportunity when simultaneously he lost his job and also was offered “substantial support” from an industry leader to start his own firm. He leapt at the opportunity and started his business! After a few months into the abyss, the initial excitement of the launch had waned some and he was approached by a large equity firm from NYC who offered to “make him head of their regional operations”. It was the kind of opportunity he would have taken in a heartbeat prior to starting his own company. I happened to be visiting him during this time, and he shared the proposition with me. He recounted some of his conversation with the principals including their suggestion that he abandon the idea of starting his own firm (“it’s too hard, why do it?”) and work for them. He asked me what I thought. My immediate reply was to tell them to “f*ck off!”. He was shocked at first but then understood. The NYC equity firm was like the song of the Sirens. It may sound like a bed of roses but the proposition was laced with peril. He had decided to start his own enterprise. Once someone does that, there is no turning back. Likewise, there’s no room for even entertaining thoughts or discussions that distract us from our goal of building our company. My friend hasn’t looked back. Since launching his enterprise, his business has literally boomed. It may sound cliche but he has kept his focus 100% and it shows.
I share this because it’s a great story with a great punch line. But this isn’t just for new ventures. For a business owner, it applies every single day. Sure, a business grows, cash flow improves, the company expands, but that doesn’t mean that an owner or founder can take their eyes off the goal of building their business. Even with what may seem like a little “breathing room”, there’s no room for conversations or personal behavior that distract any of us from our vision. Everything must be in support of building our company; this applies not only to our own dreams, but also to everyone else who has joined you in that endeavor — from husbands, wives and partners, to financial backers, to employees and partners, to clients, to vendors. Everyone.
Furthermore, this doesn’t apply just to entrepreneurs either. I believe this applies to each of us in all of our endeavors, from jobs and careers, to new projects (at work and home), to personal hobbies, to life goals, to relationships, to our dreams. Yes, our dreams. They really do matter and they really can change our lives and, if we’re lucky, the world we live in too.
So remember to keep your focus on whatever you're doing or dreaming of doing, and if anyone says anything that even hints at not supporting you and your vision, thank them…and then tell them where they can go.
Read all of Max's Founder's Corner posts.