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Bet on the Jockey, Not the Horse

Leadership & Inspiration

Joshua Davidson wrote this article

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For every single entrepreneur that I have worked with here at Chop Dawg, they have heard me give them the same line at the beginning of our working relationship together. We will provide them with the best horse on this planet. We will give them every resource that they need. We will handle all of the support, all of the moral backing, all the guidance that will put them over the top. However, at the end of the day, it is up to them if they are going to succeed. You can have the greatest horse on the planet, but if you are a terrible jockey, that horse will not win the race.

This is the truth. Look at the greatest products and companies in the world – and it does not matter what industry it is in, what time period it was built in, the background that created that company – they all had the same factor. Their leadership and founding team did what they needed to do to get their company noticed, on the map and successful. I promise you that great products are built daily. Just take a look on ProductHunt.com on any given day. The reason why you will never hear of 98% of those companies again? They weren’t operated by legitimate entrepreneurs and/or they did not execute.

Execution is just as important as a great product. Right at the beginning of building a new product, we spend as much time focusing on the branding, the marketing strategy and the story that a company is going to tell as much as we do on the product itself. This isn’t to say that a product isn’t important (oh hell yes it is folks, do not let this article tell you otherwise), but execution is 50% of the battle. Why do you think Apple was able to sell a computer back when everyone thought they were way too advanced for an everyday user? They presented them in a fashion that people felt they wouldn’t be overwhelming, where they thought a learning curve wouldn’t be too steep, in a fashion that was friendly to the masses.

How does one execute this? It is split into different elements. For starters, understand your market from day one. If you do not, or you go for too broad of a market at the beginning, you’re destined to fail. You need to build something that you know will be instantly validated, used and appreciated. You need to build your product for a market that you know will pay for the value that you can give them in return. Understanding your market is where everything else will fall into when it comes to execution, with an example being how to brand yourself (logo design is very important, not the most important, but a great logo can put you over the top, while a terrible logo can hurt you), how to tell your story, how to talk to your audience, how to price your product/service, how to be recognizable, etc.

Above all, execution falls beyond just the marketing and packaging side. It falls onto you, the entrepreneur, the leadership. The culture you set from day one, the way you show your enthusiasm to the world, the way you let your passion drive your product – this will make the difference. Again, I circle back to Product Hunt and ask you to think to yourself – for 98% of those products that you see, are they warranted spending five (plus) years of your life on? Would you truly be passionate about those markets? Do you see a realistic, big enough exit on them to warrant the risk that is entrepreneurship? The answer is going to be no. You need to understand that entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, that it is you giving it your all because you firmly believe that you can solve a problem better than anybody else on this planet can. These are the factors that contribute to proper execution and has a trickle-down effect into your product itself. They are all connected; they are all a part of the same pie. Don’t undersell it. You need to be the best jockey on the planet, to go along with the best horse on the planet. We will also create incredible horses, but the horse won’t win you the race on its own. Accept your accountability, your piece of the whole pie, and train yourself to be the best jockey possible. Your livelihood depends on it.

 

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