I have now worked with over 500 entrepreneurs and there is one simple thing that helps them successfully go from zero to one — sustained intensity throughout the venture creation stage.
It doesn’t help to just have skills. Skills can be outspent. They can be outmaneuvered. Skills are also ephemeral — someone can be extremely skilled at marketing until a new way of selling to customers pops up. We’re seeing that now with the entrance of community-based marketing. Some companies are really struggling to adapt because they have been focused on the skills of building and not the muscle of building.
Skills vs. Muscle
When you have a marketable skill, you must always upskill to build and continuously stay on top. It can be an uphill battle in some areas, and a losing battle in others. What we have been focused on is helping our founders build muscles.
Muscles are flexible. Skills are not. Muscles are always tensing…flexing…skills are hardened and can become stagnant over time. You can begin to spin your work into a powerful momentum if you focus on the right venture development habits.
These are the building blocks of any successful venture:
- customer development
- product development
- team building
If you can keep these building blocks in muscle form, you will always have the intensity it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.
The cycle of skills and muscles is important to understand because it’s what separates the sustainably successful from those who hit a ceiling and then plateau. When you only have skills, you’ll likely get to a certain point and then stop growing. But when you focus on building muscles, you can create sustained intensity and continue growing your company even through tough times.
Recruiting for muscles
This leaves an interesting question — it may be easier to develop the intensity to build something from nothing when you are a founder…much less to find that intensity for your team members.