If as an entrepreneur, you measure success by a single moment (the most popular being when you cash out) you are most probably going to be sadly disappointed…
Jason Cohen recently wrote a very thought provoking blog post, The Only Way to Guarantee Startup Success, which discussed the inevitable “lows” which follow great successes. It reminded me of something my brother said a while back, reminding me to “enjoy our time building BrightGauge“.
After reading Jason’s post, I took some time to reflect on the topic, and started thinking about the last company we launched, Compuquip Managed Services in 2007. We sold the company in 2012 (actually 2 years ago today), and it was, by any measure, a huge success. But two years later, my measure of the success of that deal has changed. It’s less about the finances and more about the process of building the company that I find so satisfying.
The truth is, the actual process of putting a business deal of that size together is no fun. The amount of stress created by due diligence alone was almost unbearable. It was distracting, and took resources away from our regular, day to day work. Our workload didn’t decrease during this period, it just piled higher. Since we had to keep this transaction confidential, I also felt very isolated from the team during the due diligence period. I was stressed, isolated, and distracted. Where’s the fun in that?
Sure, the financial pay off was rewarding, and seeing the wire transfer hit the bank was exciting and provided a brief chance to celebrate our success. Then it was time to go back to work and plan the next phase of announcing the deal and integration. Where’s the fun in that?
Once the deal closes, another tidal wave of work comes crashing in. In addition to managing my day to day workload, I was also managing communications with my team and customers, planning and implementing the actual integration of two different companies, and handling any kind “culture clashes” between two different businesses. It wasn’t an easy task, and it was awkward for both sets of employees. Where’s the fun in that?
Here’s the secret as Jason indicates in this blog, it isn’t a single moment of success that is the most meaningful, its the actual building of the company that really matters and you must enjoy. Jason’s blog post urges us to measure success in steps. We shouldn’t be chasing an end result that will make us happy, but rather, we should make “all those years be the years you are happy.”
Last week I has lunch with my key manager from Compuquip Managed Services. He still manages the team and works for the company that acquired us. After catching up on both family and business news, we spent the remainder, and majority, of the lunch reminiscing about what a great time we had building the team and the company. We remembered all the victories we had, the team outings we took, the customers we fought to win and retain, the customers who drove us nuts, and so on. It was a great lunch, and at the end, I told Jorge that I really enjoyed working with him and building the company.
Building the company was the most fun of all, and now that I have this new perspective, I’m going to celebrate the good times. I know there’s a never ending list of things to do and challenges ahead, but I’m going to make it a point to enjoy the journey more.
At the end of the day, enjoying the journey is what counts, and that’s what you’ll remember when you start to measure your success. There’s a lot of fun in that.