Vail Daily column: Starting at Day 1
Ryan Summerlin May 13, 2014
“An innovator who has brilliant ideas but lacks the discipline and persistence to carry them out is merely a dreamer,” Malcolm Gladwell said in “David and Goliath.”
A journey of a million steps starts with one, though it still leaves 999,999 left undone.
My personal adaptation of Confucius’ quote, thought up while walking the Camino de Santiago, has influenced my view of strategy and new products ever since.
From my position in business, as an outside consultant and attorney, I am frequently brought in on projects at what I consider the before “Day 1” time period.
The client says, “We have a viable product; we know the market wants it. The market wants this and that and this. Soon we’ll be at five times this and 45 times that! Then we can buy a building, make our own database, hire a sales staff … ”
However, the counsel most people seem to need is that everything is just a dream before “Day 1.”
My personal startup, a sober-living house for adult males, has a baked-in business plan, potential financiers, industry support, market demand and a really good team. What we don’t have is a zealous housing or real estate advocate in the Vail Valley. Without this I can not get to Day 1.
When I pitch the idea, a product that is financially viable and has a benefit to society that is equally valuable, everyone loves it. However, what everyone really loves what the company “could” be in three to five years. When looking for advice and help I have learned to just butt in (politely) at this point and say, “Yeah, but I’m looking to get to Day 1.” Hence the conversations stall, stop or move back into the world of theory.
The sheer volume of times this has occurred has lead me to adopt Day 1 strategy as a dominant theme in strategic planning. I know that hope is not a strategy for post Day 1 concerns, however if you are the type of person or company that keeps moving to Day 100 or Day 1,000, I have complete faith that you can create and implement Day 100 or 1,000 strategies after Day 1.
IT’S NOT COMPLICATED
The implementation of Day 1 thinking is not complicated at all. In fact it is a derivative of my “Step 1: Define success; Step 2: Only do things that increase your likelihood to succeed,” which ran in the Vail Daily on Oct. 10. If success is defined as achieving the objectives you are currently dreaming about, what must you do today to most increase your likelihood to succeed? Get to Day 1.
Or, in metaphorical terms, you can’t run the race until you get to the start line. Everything else is a dreamer’s quest.
But hey, what do I know?
Brad Bickerton lives in Minturn and blogs at www.bickerton.tips. While he is an evil, evil attorney licensed in Colorado, this article is not meant to convey any type of legal advice. If you want to talk about the legal issues, then contact a lawyer.