My job is not to keep my company alive. It’s to figure out how to kill it.
How crazy is that?
But it’s true. The job of a small business owner to keep the business alive. To make smaller, more prudent bets that will optimize but not really make huge waves. Because your livelihood is dependent on it. If you mess up, chances are you’re not making rent. I know this because my parents had a successful small business for almost 40 years. I know exactly what the price of a wrong move is and the satisfaction of a right one.
And as incredible and as successful my parents’ business was, it’s not what I’m doing. I’m not building a small business to create value on the personal scale. I’m supposed to making big bets that stand to completely change the status quo.
So every day that I’m pushing to keep my business alive instead of testing to see what will kill it, I am failing my purpose and my job.
This is an incredibly hard thing to live. Because it might sound simple in theory but in the actuality? I know the parents we’re serving. Their kids. I know the caregivers in our community – their lives, their realities.
So every change we make, every test we run has real, non-theoretical implications. It ripples through the whole system. And a system that deals with humans? And little humans at that? Well, any change is more complicated.
It doesn’t change my job though, because while I fret and worry about the thousand families or the hundred caregivers we have now, we jeopardize our opportunity to figure out the thing that could really stand a chance at serving the millions.
And maybe we end up being one of the 95% that never make it. But I’d rather know that after we’ve had the chance to throw everything we have at the problem and not wonder once we run out of money (and therefore time).
I can’t tell you how hard it is to not be my father’s daughter. To not wake up with the instinct to keep this business alive. To not do everything we can to carefully nurture it along.
It is a hard thing to realize that the job I signed up for is the one that has to constantly tackle the impossible.
And the impossible is only possible with big bold bets.
The kind that can kill a company.
But can change the world.