In my last post I referred to a Lucius Seneca quote: “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”
This Pearl of Business involves having a clear view of the future state of your company, beyond just setting goals. It has to do with having a vivid mental image of the place you envision your company will be at some point in the future that will fulfill your personal life achievement objectives.
Seneca and Business Success
Seneca’s quote is so valuable and offers priceless advice. The benefits of understanding its deeper meaning and learning how to internalize it and apply it are critical. Seneca lived in the First Century AD, when sailing vessels were the bases of commerce. The ship’s captain needed an experienced crew, a sound ship, weather condition insight, and a precise destination in order to successfully deliver the ship’s cargo. The core value of this Pearl of Business is hidden in “no wind is favorable.”
The captain obviously could not control the wind force and direction or the tidal currents, but the destination was fixed. So he had to optimally engage the crew, the ship’s controllable sails, and the helm to reach the destination safely and ahead of his competition.
Applying the Pearl
The analogies between sailing a ship to its destination and successfully growing and steering a company to a successful liquidity event are numerous and significant so we will discuss them frequently on our voyage together.
The first step in the captain getting where he needed to go was knowing where he was going. Here’s how this relates to achieving business success.
You must have:
• A clear vision of your port—where you are taking your company
• A leadership team—your crew—that is confident in your knowledge of the goals and objectives
• A clear plan of your course—how you’re going to achieve your goals and objectives
• A leadership team with the aptitude and attitude to optimize the company’s value—the sailboat itself
At the very outset of forming our IT Company, my business partner and I set a goal to get the company to an annual revenue base of $100M in ten years. We came to that number by clearly determining what our personal financial gain objectives were and by jointly computing what the company’s liquidity value needed to be in order for each of us to achieve that objective. This exercise led us to clearly imaging our personal dreams.
In the years I’ve been out here growing companies and now advising entrepreneurs on success and establishing successful ventures, the critical first step is to have a clearly defined “port.”
As a result of our having a clear corporate objective, the decisions we made day to day and year to year enabled us to react to market changes—“wind shifts”—and resulted in us staying on course to achieve our ultimate company and personal objectives.
Building a successful career and/or a business is hard. There will be challenges and difficulty and moments of questioning why you’re doing it. It’s your personal dream that separates you from those who give up and quit. Your dream is bigger than you and it’s the reason to keep working and grinding away in order to achieve it. If you lose sight of your dream—and your company’s port—indeed, no wind will be favorable.
So, my question to you is this: What is your port? As you think about your answer, it’s important not to confuse career or company goals and objectives with what I’m referring to as your port—it’s your personal DREAM! When we were growing our IT Company we kept the corporate objective—our port—vibrant by revisiting it every month to assess if we were on track to achieve our dream. And you can do the same.
So what’s your dream? What port do you envision sailing to?