This is the advice the board gave to the CEO of a company in the middle of a critical pivot.
Take the biggest swing they can. Lean in as hard as they can to the big idea. Singles and doubles won’t grow valuation and the brand. Fortune favors the bold.
And so on.
The main problem with this advice? Going home sucks.
In baseball, everyone loves the guy that hits 45 home runs a year. It’s super fun to watch. But most fans forget the huge number of strikeouts each season. Runners stranded on base. Dashed hopes in the bottom of the ninth.
I’ll take the grinders on the team. The players that consistently hit singles and doubles. Keeping the game going. Giving the team another chance to score and win the game.
When things aren’t working in a startup, pressure builds to find a path to growth.
Your board is trying to decide as fast as possible if you’re going to be a winner or a loser in their portfolio. Employees start questioning the strategy. Disagreements start to brew across the leadership team.
You might feel pressure to take that big swing to jump start growth and charge your way to success.
This is exactly the time when you need to pull back. Slow down.
Your company might be 6 years into your journey, and yet you find yourself rethinking product-market fit. That’s ok. Markets don’t stand still. Great companies find themselves at this crossroads over and over again.
Sit down and stare at your cash flow. Know your runway. Grow slower. Get smaller if you have to. If you’re running down the wrong path, running faster won’t get you to your destination. Sometimes you have to stop, go back and chart a new path.
Your fuel for the big swing is your cash. And if the cash runs out before you have found your path to sustainable growth, you and your team go home.
That company I referenced above. Nine months after the CEO took that advice and bet the company on a big swing, the cash ran out. Everyone went home.
And going home sucks.