By Bob La Loggia, CEO StormSource Software
I enjoy the ride on a good commercial airline flight. It’s time that I can use to catch up on tasks that require focus. I throw the headphones on, listen to the best music ever created by mankind (70s music - as if I needed to spell that out), and get to work on the laptop. Nary a thought is given to the route the plane will take to get from point A to point B. Once we do our initial turn after taking off, it seems like a pretty straight shot to me.
Well, it’s anything but a straight shot. The auto-pilot is correcting constantly the entire route. It is being temporarily taken off course the whole trip. And, each time the elements take it off course, it corrects and gets back on the right path.
It’s the same with your startup business. You’ll be blown off course every day. And each time your path starts to take you in the wrong direction, you must correct and get back on course toward your goal.
There are three elements that can lead you in the wrong direction. Beware of these and don’t let any of them steer you astray:
Great ideas. Every startup has an abundance of ideas. That’s okay. Creative and innovative thinking are signs of a healthy culture. But, so is focus. If you change direction every time you or someone in your organization comes up with a better idea, you’ll never be successful.
Great ideas don’t make you a success. Execution and persistence make you a success. Great implementations start with a plan, and a great plan and great operational decisions come from great people. Success requires all of these.
Interruptions. One of the top productivity killers is interruptions. Phone calls, emails, chats, meetings, and people stopping by your desk all temporarily push you off course. It has been proven that productivity is highest when there are long periods of uninterrupted work.
Only answer your phone and return calls during a designed time, have specific times throughout the day for checking email, and encourage your staff to keep meetings to a minimum. If you absolutely need to get something done on a given day, work at the coffee shop on that day. And if you do get thrown off course, get right back in line as quickly as you can.
Challenges. Problems, issues, obstacles, challenges – different terms, but the same result. They take your mind and your time off the important tasks you need to be doing to achieve your objectives. In a startup environment, oftentimes there is no one else to take care of the problems, so it’s up to you.
Every company has issues. But, how you handle the issues will play an important role in whether or not you succeed. The main concepts to remember when addressing problems are 1) gather as much information as you can about the problem and clearly define it, 2) write out the possible solutions, and 3) select a solution and act swiftly and decisively. Address the problem, then get back on course.
Yes, just like an airplane flying from New York to Los Angeles, your path to success will look like an EKG line. But as much as you’ll be blown off course temporarily by great ideas, interruptions and challenges, you must always get yourself back on track. If you don’t, you might take a left turn and end up in Cuba.
Today’s guest post is by Bob La Loggia, who is the founder and CEO of Appointment-Plus online scheduling software. He is a veteran of four startups over his 22 years in the technology arena, and admits to his share of left turns. He can be reached directly via email or through his blog.