Growing A Startup Is Like A Game Of Football

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Growing A Startup Is Like A Game Of Football

It’s January 1st 2017.  My social timelines are full of resolutions – some personal; some professional.  It seems like a good time to write a post I’ve been thinking about for a while.

I talk with a lot of entrepreneurs. Every one has a vision to be the next Uber of X.  They have plans to be billion dollar companies. Most are valuations based on investment rather than revenue.  They have huge goals that they need help achieving. The problem is that they don’t have a plan to achieve these huge goals.

How do you build a plan to be the next Uber or Google?  Where do you start?

Most entrepreneurs don’t.  To use a football analogy, most simply throw a series of Hail Mary’s hoping that one of them will be caught for a touchdown. They’ll find an investor; they will win a large enterprise customer; or a billion dollar suitor will acquire them. It’s like measuring success based solely on whether you can throw an 80-yard touchdown or not.

So how do you build a plan to be the next Uber or Google? Start with an achievable milestone.

To use another football analogy, start with the aim of moving the ball 10 yards.  If you successfully move the ball 10 yards then do it again. And again. All the way to to end zone.

Growing A Startup Is Like A Game Of Football

Play-by-play

To continue the football analogy, what if you set 30 day goals – running a new play each week.  Some months you’ll move the business 10 yards on the first attempt.  Others, you’ll be 3rd and long.  If you don’t make the yardage after four downs it’s time to re-think the strategy, or the plays, and try again.

Set another 10-yard goal that is achievable in the next 30 days.  Run a series of 4 plays. Measure whether you made the yardage.  Do it again.

I’m not saying entrepreneurs shouldn’t throw Hail Mary’s.  I’m just saying they shouldn’t be the only play for achieving startup goals.  We all know that setting big audacious goals – and not achieving them – can be disheartening.  Throwing one deep pass after another wondering why they are never completed (and then throwing another one anyway) doesn’t help move our businesses forward.

Growth. Differently

So this year I’m planning growth differently.  I have a growth goal for the year, but rather than standing on my own 20-yard line throwing Hail Mary’s in the hope I score a touchdown, I have a 30-day goal. My next goal will depend on whether or not I achieve it.  My strategy will evolve depending on the progress I make and the plays I think will best help me move my business down the field.

How are you planning to grow your business in 2017? What’s your growth strategy?