The Five Rules For Rocket Ships

May 26, 2020

When I was a first-time founder, I knew I had a lot to learn about scaling a business. As my business grew, I relentlessly worked to come up the CEO curve. I read book after book. I had mentors. I had a coach. And they all helped a lot.

Yet, even with all that effort on learning, I made mistake after mistake. Even as I led my company from idea to multi-million dollar exit, I endured painful lessons, and brought myself to the point of burnout.

When I left my job as CMO for the company that acquired my startup, I stepped into coaching because I wanted to help Founders avoid the mistakes I’d made.

I leaped into coaching and I’ve learned a lot of things that have have accelerated my personal growth — as well as helped Founders make amazing progress.

But something was missing. The over-arching theme of my entrepreneurial and coaching journey has been studying why and how some companies take off and become Rocket Ships.

Recently, I thought back to my time as a first-time Founder. I couldn’t shake the feeling like there should have been some framework that laid out really clearly what you need to do to transform from a Founder to a Rocket Ship CEO.

It would answer the question: “How do you become the CEO your company needs when you’ve never done it before?”

It would encompass everything from how to break down problems and challenges, to creating customers, execution, leadership and developing the right mindset. It would be an MBA for real-life entrepreneurs.

In March this year, I realized that even with all the business books I’ve read, I still hadn’t found that framework.

So in true entrepreneurial form, I’ve decided to create it.

After years of leading, studying, and coaching Rocket Ship companies and founders, I’ve identified a set of traits that these CEO’s and their companies share.

I call them The Five Rules for Rocket Ships. Here they are:

  1. Ruthless Simplicity
    Rocket Ship CEO’s are ruthless in creating simplicity. They strive to create simplicity everywhere: sales, operations, marketing, training, support and anywhere else. That’s because they know complexity and ambiguity are the biggest killer of rapid growth.
  2. Flywheel Customer Creation
    Your ability to create your ideal customers is the engine of your rocket ship. Rocket Ship CEO’s obsess over creating a frictionless customer journey that creates a flywheel effect, enabling their companies to grow exponentially.
  3. Clockwork Execution
    A hallmark of Rocket Ship companies is that even in their earliest stages, they show an uncanny ability for execution. This is often unglamorous side of the business, but Rocket Ship CEO’s know this is the key to moving at speed, no matter what’s thrown at you
  4. Real-Life Leadership
    Founders are thrust into a leadership role with almost no training in leading and managing people. In contrast to theoretical management books and course, Real-Life Leadership is the difference between a high functioning and low functioning team — and ultimately, your team will determine the scale of your success.
  5. Bigger Game Mindset
    The magic of entrepreneurship is that it’s one of the greatest personal development platforms ever created. Rocket Ship CEO’s play with a Bigger Game Mindset, enabling them to navigated huge challenges yet remain centered, resilient and bulletproof.

The rules sound simple. But actually implementing them requires disrupting your current way of thinking and doing things differently. It requires you to transform from a Founder and start becoming a CEO.

This framework is the basis of the MBA I wish I had when I was a first-time founder. It encompasses the stuff you really need to master to create and guide a rocket ship.

I’m in the process of creating a ton of materials around these Five Rules. Things that can help you create and scale your business. So stay tuned, there’s a LOT more coming.

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