At Junto, we're all familiar with the power of shared experiences over advice when it comes to building a company. But there's one thing that we may not appreciate nor recognize enough: why leaders keep asking the question over time, "how do we ____?
I've learned that it boils down to two sides of the same coin: that these founders are running a business of this size and type for the first time and, therefore, every so often they encounter a new wall for the first time.
It's like a larger-than-life staircase. We walk and walk, then suddenly approach what seems to be a step that's impossible to climb. We then seek assistance in the hope that people can either lift or pull us up to scale that step. Sometimes, it happens fairly quickly and, other times, it takes forever. Hopefully, we make it to that next step, and the cycle repeats itself.
It's one of the reasons why programs like Junto's can be relevant for earlier-stage startups all the way to mature small companies. If the founders are at their respective stage, age, or size for the first time, they continue to encounter things for the first time. But having Mentors who have already experienced what the founders are experiencing, and peers who help them discover that they're not alone, makes the stair-climbing easier.
For example, last week we held the Budgeting & Forecasting Class, led by Chris Arndt of ORBA (JuntoPartner). Each company that attended generates $2 million to $6 million in sales, has 12 to 35 employees, and has all been in business for at least five years. Yet each had founders and executives who admitted that they weren't practicing the topic with the rigor that Chris shared simply because they didn't know how to go about it. And that's the whole point.
Like everything in life that we encounter for the first time - working out, college, marriage, parenting, homeownership - the secret ingredient to making it easier is vulnerability. When we have the capacity to acknowledge what we don't know, and then say it to others, amazing things can happen.
Or as we know at Junto, amazing things do happen.