I went to a “Growing Your Business” breakfast session this week, at the RIC Centre in Mississauga, that was focused on business getting funding and financing. During these sessions they usually have a panel of speakers including people from industry, academia and in business. So the panel had someone from an Angel Investment fund, a Commercial Lender and a startup CEO.
The whole event was interesting, though for this post, I’m going to discuss an added jewel that popped up in the discussion from the CEO Panalist, Miriam Tuerk, Co-founder and CEO of Clear Blue Technologies.
It was almost an aside or addition to the whole “founder’s view” of getting funding; though it was clearly on point because it was about growing a business to the point where you can get funding. It was advice she got from someone recently about Traction – that when you have achieved it, it actually feels like you are moving forward really slowly. And it’s at that time when you actually have locked in and are moving forward… however slowly… that you need to stop chasing things and hanker down and focus on doing more of what is working.
Okay. So it’s now Friday afternoon after a really busy week, and I’m more in the mood of writing a “wisdom” piece this week rather than a researched how-to. So here goes a few of my thoughts on what this means.
Instinctively, I know what this means. Or maybe I just have my own interpretation. That’s the thing about wisdom; we all hear different things in the same universal truths.
For me it seems that when you move into really making progress, on any real goal, you stop the flaying around and you have focus; you see where you are and what you need to do. It’s what being in The Zone means. To draw on one of my tennis analogies – it’s like when after a few years of playing tennis, I learned to not rush frantically at the ball, but to slow down and take a stronger more prepared shot.
So how do you know you are there, besides all this mystical intuitive stuff?
The answer is trends.
It’s why knowing what your business goals are, where your business currently stands in trying to reach them, and the “right” metric for the “right” time is so important. (All concepts highlighted in Lean Analytics (Croll & Yoskovitz)).
The beauty about Traction, is that only after you are achieving it that you really can see that you have it. It’s visible from these data points and metrics gathered over a period of time. Before you have the trend, you are sometimes flaying about trying to find it. And believe me, if you don’t see a trend, you are still flaying about.
Positive trends will help in building confidence. They should highlight the things that ae working – because if we change the actions that result in the trend, we should see the trend change. ( Sometimes for good and for bad).
It can seem like slow progress, because purposeful attention feels slow. And sometimes it takes small, little bite-sized changes to really effect change. Because what goes hand-in-hand with traction, is momentum. Those bite-sized changes slowly build into momentum.
Miriam also talked about Startup business growth being small steps – collecting references, getting revenue, achieving margin targets. This parallels nicely with the comment about tracking the “right” metric for the “right” time. As the trend builds as a steady flow of the first phase, then the focus shifts to building the next, and then the next…
So keep tracking, keep distilling into metrics that bring insight, and then take action on insights. And if the momentum carries you into a new phase, then relook at what you are measuring. You may need to raise or change the bar.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clipart