The Four Elements of Company Building

In my post last week, I defined “company building” as the stage after the company has nailed product-market fit and distribution and it needs to scale as an organization. This phase is tough because it isn’t as clearly measurable as building product or growing distribution.

It’s helpful, therefore, to have a framework to separate out the different aspects of a successful organization. I believe there are a number of ways to think about it, but my personal framework consists of four components:

  • Strategy: Does my organization have the right vision, goals & tactics?
  • Execution: Can I accomplish the strategy as I’ve defined it?
  • Team: Do I have the right team, and are they motivated and informed?
  • Leadership: How do I become the leader my organization needs?

Let me expand a bit on the above topics below.

Strategy:
In my mind, great strategy is defined by having the right vision, goals and tactics – and then communicating it to your team and ensuring that they understand it. Crafting strategy is a difficult exercise – it requires synthesization of a tremendous amount of data, drawing the right conclusions, and then simplifying and communicating them, along with goals and a plan of attack.

Execution:
Great strategists come in all shapes and sizes – some are entrepreneurs, some are investors and some are academics. But what makes an entrepreneur an entrepreneur is their ability not only to craft the right strategy, but then to execute against it; to proverbially “get shit done”.

Team:
To use a football analogy, if strategy is your playbook and execution is how flawlessly you run those plays, it still matters a lot how fast your running back is. And so recruiting, retaining, motivating and aligning your team are all critical elements of building a successful company.

Leadership:
A coach can have the right playbook, the team can run them well, and the GM can have recruited superstars – but sometimes that’s not enough. Injuries happen, competitors call audibles and sometimes you have to play in bad weather. Great leadership is an essential part of crafting effective strategy, flawlessly executing and building strong teams, but it’s also critical to guiding a company through changing conditions. Sometimes a great locker room talk can be the difference between success and failure.

I’ll use this framework to explore these areas (and my journey through them) in future posts.

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