A bias towards action: don’t talk about the work, do the work

In startups and tech, the most successful people in the room have an incredible bias towards action and execution. Execution ability is the only way to delineate between those who will succeed and those who will never get out the door.

I’m often amused by friends and acquaintances who come to me with startup “ideas” and ask me not to “steal” them. I chuckle in my mind, and keep myself together because I very much like and want to keep my friends, but there’s no easy way to tell someone who’s never written a line of code in their life that there is essentially a very narrow, almost impossible path to executing on even the most profitable of B2B startup ideas.

A successful path to execution relies on a mixture of enormous luck in your existing network (university, engineers you work with and who trust you), connections to not only many different potential angels and venture capitalists through the lifecycle of your startup — but really good ones you can trust to not rip your company from underneath your feet unexpectedly and who can add real value — and excellent skills in recruiting, retaining, and nurturing strong teams.

People are extremely difficult to understand on average. This is why there are so many terrible managers in the world, and why so many hilarious office comedies exist. Startup management strategy also varies wildly as you scale. The team you hire from day 0-100 will look and act nothing like the team you have on day 500 or even on day 200.

Execution is many things, all at once. Can you not only create a product road map but actually build each feature efficiently and quickly? Are you meeting the needs of real customers in what you build or the whims of your engineering or product team? Can you ship code efficiently and quickly? Can you rely on and motivate every member of your team — including yourself — to take deep ownership of their part of the business? Can you move fast, iterate, learn and adapt quicker and better than competitors?

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

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Published September 13, 2023