Building a business is hard.  Mostly its hard because of the known and unknown unknowns of the environment in which you’re building.  The more I do this, the more I’m convinced that the separation between a thriving and growing business and one that’s sideways or declining comes down to one thing.

Its too simplistic and way overused to just say "the people" without definition of what that really means.  Of course every entrepreneur, VC, board member, or business pundit says its all about the people.  Of course having smart and self-starters on the team is critical.  Its more than that. 

Its about how those smart and self-starting people act, behave, engage, and carry with them the "why" of what they’re doing when the leaders aren’t around.  Its the religion driving the effort that tips the scales.  Its the sense people have of working together to solve interesting things,  having a blast doing it, in pursuit of an emotional reason for doing it.

I think and talk about the business nearly 24×7.  I even dream about the business.  Its not the mechanical  bullshit, its the really interesting, cool, fun, and stimulating things that I think about.  If the people around me do the same and in the same causal direction, then and only then do we have a shot on goal of real success.  Win or lose, we’re going to have fun doing it and I like getting paid to have fun.

Its not the leaders or managers that create, build and grow something – we just get the lion’s share of the credit.  Instead its the people.. all the people inside the company that do extraordinary things with their personal and discretionary time.  The leader’s role is to create an environment for success.  Execution is where the battle is won or lost and the best leaders make execution a derivative of the cause of the business.

Markets move, that’s what opens opportunity.  Successful businesses exploit gaps, needs, holes, fragmentation and inefficiencies.  They prey on weaker competitors that don’t or can’t rally their people to do things that can’t be legislated.  They deconstruct and cause other businesses to fail.  Markets are unpredictable which only adds to the suspense and further makes innate agility and execution a requirement to win.