By Elizabeth Yin (Co-Founder, LaunchBit)
Last year, I ran into an acquaintance of mine, a fellow entrepreneur.
“Hey, how’s it goin?” I asked.
“Great! We’re crushing it. We’re about to sign 3 deals” he replied exuberantly like so many other entrepreneurs I run into. ”How’s LaunchBit doing?”
“Pretty good. Just chugging along…” which is my standard response for this question.
“Just pretty good? You don’t seem happy with your progress… things not going well?” he asked.
So, I’ll be one of the first entrepreneurs to admit we’re not crushing it. Building a business is hard. Crushing it would mean that you are always on the up and up. Crushing it would mean that you are always hitting all your goals. But you know what, that never happens — whether it’s in business or in life. I am never crushing it. We are never crushing it.
At LaunchBit, we have a couple of key performance indicators (KPI) that we track religiously. This is a graph of our most important KPI:
Though I can’t disclose what this KPI is or what the numbers are, you can see our general trajectory from this graph. As you can see, I am pretty happy with our performance this week. But, we are not crushing it. Just because we did well this week doesn’t mean that we’ll continue to go up next week. In fact, if you zoom into a given month of the graph, this is what life at LaunchBit looks like:
From this perspective, it really doesn’t look like we’re crushing it at all! From this graph, we’re just going up and down. We are making progress, but we are not crushing it.
So what about team morale? Isn’t it bad that I don’t tell my employees that we’re crushing it? Let’s be honest — we all see through this. When entrepreneurs say they are “crushing it”, statistically speaking, they must be lying or complacent, neither of which are great traits. You have to be absolutely clueless to truly believe that someone is crushing it when they say they are. If I told my employees we were crushing it, they would see right through me. I do want them to be hopeful. And the way to do that is to praise them when they do an excellent job. And to show them numbers and traction, not fake semblances of hoopla.
It’s a tough balance, though. I don’t want my employees to look at numbers or traction too much, either. I don’t want them to get complacent with past wins since it doesn’t help with future wins. There are all these startups dying around us because they don’t get enough liftoff. So, I want us to have an underdog mentality. I want us to be hungry. I want us to know it won’t be easy but that we can do it with persistence. I want us to go into work everyday thinking we need to bond together to get that tough win. I don’t want anyone on my team for a moment to think that we’re crushing it.
As for that entrepreneur whom I spoke with last year, well, it’s unfortunate, but his company folded about 3 months after our conversation. Another one bites the dust. It’s time to go back to work.
Women 2.0 readers: Are you “crushing it” or not? How do you term the current state of your company?
About the guest blogger: Elizabeth Yin is a Co-Founder at LaunchBit and is currently in the 500 Startups incubator program. She is an internet marketer and backend programmer. Previously, she ran marketing for startups and also worked as a marketing manager at Google. Prior to Google, Elizabeth wrote backend code for startups during the rise and fall of the dot com era. Elizabeth holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford and an MBA from MIT Sloan. Follow her on Twitter at @launchbit.