The success of a startup depends 5% on the idea, and 95% on its effective execution. Use the Circle of Agility to create execution momentum and boost your chances of building a successful business.
When I think about the importance of execution, I’m reminded of my first entrepreneurial experience back in 2000.
I was working as a Vice President at CBS Television in Los Angeles and living in the Golden Age of the Internet. Companies like Amazon, eBay and Google were only a few years old.
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook was still in high school.
Everywhere I turned, people my age were leaving behind corporate jobs to create an “internet company.” That’s what they used to call tech startups in those days.
Thousands of young entrepreneurs were changing the world and getting rich, at least on paper, in the process. I was a bit jealous, but also highly motivated.
My business partner and I were inspired to create what we called the “Yahoo of Central & Eastern Europe”– a group of local-language news and information portals targeting local internet users in the region. We planned to launch in Hungary first and expand from there.
We raised $1.5 million from angel investors, moved to Budapest and began building what would become eEuropeMedia.
We created and sold our internet media company to strategic investors in a mere 18 months.
It felt like 18 years.
Effective execution delivers 95% of success
Going into this venture, I thought that writing a business plan and raising funding were the toughest parts of creating a company.
It wasn’t until we had to bring the business we had conceived on paper to life – to launch the product, to hire a team, to implement a sales and marketing strategy – that I realized how wrong I had been.
Parts of this experience were amazing: the thrill of creating something from nothing, of motivating investors, business partners and clients to buy into our dreams, of closing that first big deal.
Other parts of it were scary and exhausting: having to deal with a relentless string of unexpected obstacles, the ongoing struggle to manage cash flow, and the constant uncertainty over which strategy to follow.
This experience taught me that ideas are nice, but effective execution is even more important when it comes to building a successful business.
Some startup experts estimate that the success of a business depends only 5% on the idea, and 95% on effective execution.
That may seem extreme at first, but it’s not far from the truth.
I also believe, however, that you need to create a blueprint that will guide your execution. “Just do it,” is not enough.
This approach sits at the heart of The Launch Code, my business development framework that combines corporate planning methods with entrepreneurial execution to help businesses create a clear path to growth and profits.
Effective execution starts with agility
Agility is the ability to change and control the direction and position of your body while maintaining a constant, rapid motion.
Mental agility is the ability to think quickly on your feet, solving problems, making decisions and being creative, often under intense pressure.
To bring effective execution to life, you must first understand the ‘Circle of Agility.’
The ‘Circle of Agility’ consists of three behaviors: focusing on solutions, making quick decisions and maintaining your options.
Together, these behaviors create execution momentum that will drive progress across every aspect of your business: product development, sales and marketing, finance or operations.
Part 1: Focus on solutions
The ‘Circle of Agility’ begins with focusing on solutions rather than on problems.
This mindset creates a powerful domino effect. How?
1. You approach every obstacle as a problem looking for a solution.
Is your product development slow? Find new or better programmers
Is your go-to-market strategy stalling? Revisit your value proposition and make changes.
Are you running out of money? Save costs and look for new funding.
2. Problem solving builds your momentum
When you start solving problems repeatedly, you build a positive momentum.
You start to feel the rhythm of your business.
You gain confidence and the energy to moves thing forward.
3. Momentum builds your persistence
You get hooked on your momentum and you have no choice but to keep going.
You persist, pushing through the difficult times, driven by a desire to succeed at all costs.
4. Persistence strengthens your agility….and the circle continues.
If you maintain this rhythm, on occasion, you will experience a sensation of Flow — the feeling that you’re firing on all cylinders, that you can’t do anything wrong.
It’s magical! If I could bottle it and sell it, I’d make a fortune.
Part 2: Decide and move on
The ‘Circle of Agility’ continues with a second behavior: decide and move on.
As you execute your plans, you will inevitably come to a ‘fork in the road’.
You may need to commit to one business partner or another, or a hire this job candidate or that one.
Sometimes there will be no obvious choice.
It’s critical that you don’t get stuck and fail to make a decision.
Instead, talk it through with your trusted advisors, choose your best option and move on.
Not making decisions regularly will cripple your progress and eventually kill your business.
I once advised a team of startup founders, all of whom had an equal share in the business. One co-founder, I’ll call him Greg, had informal power that gave him a bigger say in key decisions.
Greg would spend weeks considering every tiny detail related to every decision no matter how small. He didn’t support a course of action until he believed he had found the ‘perfect solution.’
Since ‘perfect’ doesn’t exist, Greg rarely supported a decision. As a result, critical issues were left unsolved and business opportunities disappeared.
His behavior was toxic. The other founders were often frustrated, the company never gained momentum, and eventually the team, at Greg’s urging, walked away from a significant investment that would have taken the business to a whole new level.
When in doubt, flip a coin
Even flipping a coin is better than not making a decision. Why?
Because 95% of decisions you make have far less impact than you think.
There is very rarely a ‘right’ decision, only a decision to be made that must be implemented.
If you choose to go left, then go left and see what happens.
If you begin executing and realize that the other option would have been better, simply course correct and make the necessary adjustments.
At least this way you will know that you didn’t waste valuable time waiting for the perfect decision.
As Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg says, “Done is better than perfect.”
Part 3: Keep your options open
The third element of the ‘Circle of Agility’ is keep your options open.
As you implement your plans, you will come across a solution that seems ideal.
You may have found the perfect distribution partner for an important market, or the perfect investor
who shows serious interest in your company.
This will feel great but be careful! Don’t fall in love with your best option at the expense of all other alternatives.
You may find that your ideal solution suddenly disappears, and you will have lost valuable time with no Plan B in place.
The impact of this behavior can hold back your development.
I advised a European health tech startup that had met a potential distribution partner in the United States about a year before we started working together. I’ll call him Oliver.
Oliver was a real ‘sales guy’ who had convinced the founders to enter an exclusive commercial agreement with him without receiving any immediate benefit in return.
After months of unfulfilled promises, I urged the company’s CEO to look for alternative partners. Every time another potential partner came into the picture, however, the CEO would drag out the discussions in the hope that Oliver would come through after all.
Unfortunately, after a year of empty promises, Oliver never come through.
Instead of accelerating its grows, this reliance on a single option brought the health tech startup’s development to a screeching halt. The founders lost valuable time and resources waiting for Oliver rather than looking for alternatives.
The lesson is clear: keep looking for alternatives to whatever problem you are trying to solve until you’ve reached a clear point of no return.
The point of no return may be a signed contract, a transfer of funding, or an obvious good faith execution of the agreement’s core proposition.
Once this happens, then you can commit to your ‘perfect’ option, but never before.
Ideas are nice, execution is everything
Having a promising business idea is a good start, but the success of any business comes down to effective execution.
Tap into the ‘Circle of Agility’ by making sure you focus on solutions, make quick decisions and keep your options open.
This will ensure that you execute with impact and that you and your business will ‘Blast off!’
Need help executing your plan?
Imagine how much easier it would be if you had a global business builder by your side to help you fix your biggest challenges.
Schedule a 30-minute FREE CONSULTATION with me and discuss how to focus on solutions, make quick decisions and develop a Plan B. We’ll also discuss how I can help you find your focus and accelerate your business growth as your personal mentor.
Get in touch and I’ll help you and your business ‘Blast off!’