Honest Tea founder (and Inc.com columnist) Seth Goldman has lived the entrepreneurial life business dreams are made of.
He founded a pioneering company on the forefront of a new era in business. He's grown an iconic brand, raised investment capital, and navigated a highly successful acquisition to one of the largest and most valuable companies in the world.
He also taught me one of the best business lessons I've learned.
It was something he shared as we talked about being entrepreneurs of purpose-driven food startups. It's a lesson that can help any entrepreneur, of any type of company, regardless of size.
Seth referenced it as focusing on your "path" versus your "destination," and it couldn't have ringed truer. All too often, it can get very easy for entrepreneurs to keep our eyes locked on the outcome we want to have.
It most certainly makes sense--and to a certain degree, you need to do so in order to move towards your business goals.
But as Seth shared during our chat, there is an importance, need and value of keeping an eye on the path your business is on, and not just the destination you'd like to reach in the end.
Business missions are not static
Your mission is a living, breathing commitment and you need to constantly feed and revisit it. Seth shared that they avoid using the words "socially responsible" at Honest Tea because it means they've arrived and there's nothing else to do.
By constantly viewing your mission as a direction you want to head, you have a greater means to accomplish it.
Success is a marathon, not a sprint
We hear about lightening fast scale and ultra successful businesses built overnight, but it is rarely the reality. More often than not, your business journey will be long and you'll need to take the long route to get there.
Trying to take short cuts, cutting corners, or other decisions to speed the process will only be to your business' detriment. Seth knew that when they bought their first fair trade ingredient at Honest Tea, it was a start in a direction - not the finish line yet.
View the metrics beyond the goal
Let the numbers show more than just the outcome you hoped to attain. View them as a means to see where you are on your mission.
Be transparent with yourself, teams, vendors and customers about where you are failing. Use the data with an emphasis on where and how you can adjust the path to get closer to what you want to accomplish.
Putting a focus on the path instead of the destination has other benefits. It can help you protect what you've built and keep it moving in the event that a deal or opportunity doesn't play out as expected.
It can enable you to read and react to issues before they become problems. It can also help you to better build your business for the outcome you've set your sights on.
And of course, it can also empower you to enjoy the journey along the way. After all that's a big part of why we become entrepreneurs to begin with.