You can’t play not to lose. You have to play to win. When you play not to lose, you won’t have a winning mindset and strategic approach. You hedge your bets, and don’t go all in on a strategy or business model. If you want to build a world-class company and dominate the industry, you absolutely have to have a winners attitude. For example, you are hedging when you refuse to pick just one customer segment and instead try to serve all customers in a market. If you try to serve both large and small customers, you’ll split your forces and divide your focus. By not focusing on one segment, you are destined to be mediocre at best. Your sales teams, product managers, and customer service will all be split between many different types of customers with different requirements. If instead you play to WIN a certain type of customer, it’s possible to WOW that customer beyond all expectations and dominate that segment. After WINNING the first segment, you can proceed to other market segments. This is just one way you have to play to WIN. This WINNING mindset should cascade throughout the entire organization and impact every aspect of the business. The stakes are big, so play to WIN!!
There comes a time when your business will emerge from the feasibility madness and you’ll have to start building the business. This happens when you stumble upon a successful business model, and you actually start making money. Often, you’ve been searching for the right product-market fit for so long that it doesn’t feel natural to pursue only one business model, even if it’s working. Consequently, you have to be very careful – if you keep searching when you should be building, you’ll run out of cash.
What makes this transition even harder is that building the business calls for a completely different skill set as a manager. Just as your products have to cross the chasm with customers, your focus as a manager has to cross the chasm with internal operations.
In this chapter, you’ll learn what new skills are required as a leader, how meetings kill startups, and why it’s sometimes important to fire clients.