Weeds are diversions, inefficiencies, and even short-term successes that distract you from the course you have set for yourself. Weeds can be either negative or positive forces. They may take the form of being stuck with a large team you just can’t find a way to keep motivated. They might involve becoming so mesmerized with the profitability you’ve achieved that you forget to move on to your next step. Your personal weeds might have to do with a tendency to continually react to everyone else’s demands instead of moving toward your goal.
Just as important as establishing the values that will serve as your road map is your need to set up the guardrails that will keep you out of the weeds. The guardrails you’ll need to keep you out of the weeds are very personal and will differ according to your circumstances and objectives. Everyone should have guardrails in place for the various parts of each zig and zag so that you are always in control of your financial number, your allocation of time, your duration of time, and your financial target. Your other guardrails will be determined by factors such as your tolerance for risk, your family’s tolerance for risk, your value system, and what portion of your personal network you are willing to expose to your endeavor.
I’m going to share some of my guardrails, but remember that these are my rules, not yours. I share them only to illustrate how important it is to give careful, specific thought to your guardrails, rather than attempting to put them in place when you’re in the middle of heading over the cliff:
· I will not jeopardize the financial stability of my home or family. I am not going to mortgage my house for my business.
· I like to keep my teams small (under fifteen people).
· I will be very careful in taking venture capital. I want to retain ownership in my companies.
· I must control the finances of my business.
· I will not sign personal guarantees on a business I do not personally control.
· I will protect my personal network.
· I will not get involved in a business that goes against my personal moral values.
· I will not do anything illegal or unethical.
· I will not work with people I do not enjoy. Whether it is a customer, a vendor, or an employee, life is too short to work with miserable people.
My list is actually longer, but these are a few examples of my guardrails. If I find myself getting near the edge on any of these, my wife, my business partner, or my executive admin each knows me well enough to tell me I am starting to cross the line. And I expect them to not stand by silently.