Stop Asking for Easy

If you’ve ever sat through a talk I’ve given or, as a business owner, sat with me one-on-one talking about exit planning, there is a 100% chance that you’ve heard me talk about how hard it is to get it done right.  And I don’t say that to be negative – I’m talking about hard things because we have to embrace the difficult in order to do great things.

In that vein I had a great read this morning.  Greg Heil over at wrote such a great article: “Stop Asking for Easy: a Manifesto for Doing Hard Things Voluntarily.”  (Greg you had me at Stop Asking for Easy).   This article is so spot on.  Think that Greg is only writing to an audience of gnarly mountain bikers?   Let’s not be so narrow- life if full of hard things, and those of us running companies can pick up a thing or two here.

“The problem is that everybody wants the prize, but nobody wants to pay the price. Nobody’s willing to put in the work.” -#BeSomebody

Greg points out two problems with “hard things:” we expect things to be easy, and we give up when they card hard.  I’ll nuance that a bit when it comes to running a company:  we give up on hard things because there are easier things that also need doing.  For instance: rolling over to a modern ERP system would massively help with efficiency and give us deep insight into data.  But since that’s hard, we’ll continue with the 14 year old system we have … and go work with finance to collate 42 reports to find out if we are making any money.  Perfect.

Look, moving the dial on enterprise value is hard.  You don’t move the dial by reformatting TPS reports or making sure the loading dock schedule is posted.  You move the dial on value by executing on the “big hand wave,” impacts-the-whole-organization, top of the funnel, enterprise size projects.  What’s more – you move the dial by allocating resources (time, capital, and you as the executive) to them… while refusing to let the organization be distracted by the next shiny object.  This is the hard stuff.

It’s Monday.  We’re midway through First Quarter.  Go ahead and take a deep breathe.  Go take a lap around the building.  And while you’re out there decide if you want to keep going down the path of least resistance, or if you want to #BeSomebody.




Dan is the Founder of Quantive and Value Scout. He has two decades of experience in leading M&A transactions. Additionally oversees Quantive's valuation practice and has performed thousands of business valuations.



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