“My name is Erez and I am building a 10 billion dollar company”
How the hell do I say this sentence with conviction? I can lie about it. I can be delusional about it. Or I can grow my ego big enough and have it say it for me.
But saying it with honest, realistic, and visceral conviction is another story.
Whenever saying this sentence becomes hard I remind myself of the following.
Maybe Making it Big
Elon Musk gave both SpaceX and Tesla a 10% chance of success. Only 1 out of 10 times would they become massively big. As so happened.
How can anyone think big when the odds of failure are 90%? The trick is to acknowledge the odds, put them aside, and focus on the 10% that matter.
There’s a real difference between a leader who wakes up in the morning thinking “I have a 10% chance of building something massively big” to one who simply thinks “I am building something massively big.”
The latter seems a little naive. Naive but much more effective.
When I got started I didn’t think big and didn’t try to think big. My goals were as ambitious as building a product, getting a customer, and assembling a team.
Everything changed after the pivot. From drowning in quicksand we were now standing on rock solid foundation:
Acute problem in a big market - The US government spends 4 trillion dollars a year in a wildly inefficient, ineffective, and dreaded process called procurement
The right team - We have a incredible team that is obsessed with this problem, has the knowledge to solve it, and the skills to execute
10x better product - We built a product that proved itself time and again to be 10x better than any alternative
Thinking big is very hard when the foundations are frail, but so natural when the foundations are real and strong. You’re thinking “Why build a tiny shed if I can build a skyscraper?”
One 10x at a Time
It’s impossible for me to imagine jumping straight from a 14 person startup to being the next Amazon. Our brains can’t imagine a thousand-fold jump. Instead I ask myself:
Can we grow the team from 14 to 140 people?
Can we raise the next round?
Can we scale from 30 customers to 300?
Yes, this is incredibly hard yet a notch below impossible.
Two things about 10x jumps. First, at every point in time, 10x will seem just as hard but not impossible, and we will want it just as bad. Two, only a handful of 10x jumps are required to become a massive success. If we’re making $1M in revenue then mere three 10x jumps will make us a 10 billion dollar company.
Believing in the next 10x is enough.
Tangible Self Belief
I don’t believe that I’m the next Elon Musk or that I’m invincible.
Instead I rely on tangible things:
I’m working on something important that I care about and can obsess about for a long time
I’m capable enough to deal with the current challenges and motivated to rapidly grow to deal with future ones
I am a part of an entire team that have these same traits
That last bullet is important. This is not about me and my insecurities. It’s about us as a team and our ability to do this, which I very tangibly believe in.
If someone is going to do this, then it's gonna be us.
Churchill said: Attitude is a little thing that can make a big difference.
Definitely true for startups. Nobody has ever built something big by thinking small.
Whenever my thinking shrinks I remind myself of four things:
Maybe making it big - No startup has certainty, that’s the game we’re all playing. The way to win is to put the losing odds aside and focus on winning
Strong foundations - Anything big that was ever built started with nothing more than strong foundations. I know that we have strong and real foundations
One 10x at a time - It is hard but not impossible to achieve the next 10x of growth. Once we do, we’ll figure out the next 10x, and then the following. I don’t need to think 100x, 1,000x, or 10,000x at once – that’s just overwhelming
Tangible self belief - I want to work on this problem obsessively. Obsessively enough to overcome current challenges and grow to deal with the next ones. The same holds for my entire team. Add some luck and we’ve got everything we need
My name is Erez and I am building a 10 billion dollar company.