Ideas are great. Energy is vital. Enthusiasm can get you past just about any hurdle, but none of these very positive attributes are more important than paying attention to details. And that’s something very few entrepreneurs do well.
We’re typically not wired to be detail people. We think big, dream big and see far into the future. We specialize in hope and expectation and big plans. And that’s why so many of us don’t make it in the long run.
Details matter. Even when we can’t see them. Being able to “see” them will not only give you a competitive advantage, it can save your business when you least expect it.
How many times have you heard a story about some business or another crashing and burning and they just can’t figure out why? And how many times have you seen someone rocket to amazing success based on an opportunity no one else saw coming. See, the devil may be in the details, but so, too is the opportunity.
Now, here’s the infamous Other Shoe dropping. Your “detail person” need not be you, but it does have to be someone you will shut up and listen to. It does you absolutely no good to bring on an administrative wizard, a real detail pro if you just bulldoze right through them. You need to have a very special relationship with this person. You need to maintain control, but they need to have a personality and a presence that can get you to stop and actually pay attention. Yes, really.
You know how we can get. Driven, ten calls a minute and a million ideas floating through our minds at all times. Priorities can get turned inside out, so it becomes easy to only focus on whatever is right in front of us as if that’s really the most important thing in the world. It may very well be, but there are other Most Important Things being neglected while we focus on whatever has our interest in that moment.
That means you may not need to be a detail person yourself, but you must become a good listener. Not a pause a minute and let them talk sort of listener, but the kind of listener for whom new information matters. If your trusted detail person gives you information and it doesn’t change your next move in the slightest, one of two things is wrong. Either that person isn’t delivering information that matters, or you are not really listening. Your ego will want you to believe it’s the former, but more often than not, it’s the latter. Take this lesson and apply it as you see fit.
And, while you’re here, share your story about when the details made the difference for you.
Chris Burch is a venture capitalist and founder of Burch Creative Capital.