I’ve long had a goal of leaving for a month and coming back with more money in our checking account than when I left.

After being out for a little more than two weeks I came back yesterday and that was the case. It wasn’t a month, but it was inline with the spirit of the goal. I didn’t know exactly where the revenue came from other than as a result of our operations. And, while I was gone, we hired a new team member and onboarded them without issue.

Yesterday, I wrote about identifying the edge of your capability. Understanding where that edge is provides intelligence about where to invest in growth.

As a skill, entrepreneurship is tricky to identify edges because it concerns navigating an environment beyond our control. A carpenter can identify the edge of their skill because the material is consistent and apparent. But for an entrepreneur, the market can make them a genius or an idiot and it’s not obvious why.

Measures like my one month goal provide some indication of growth. If I can get there, it shows that I’ve identified and made changes to the business to increase its value.

It’s a good measure, but beyond establishing a rubicon of value, it doesn’t provide clarity on where that edge in capability is.

This is the kind of stuff I wonder about on vacation. While taking the long flight back to Portland, I decided to invest a little thought into this problem. Consider this a V1 rubric of challenges:

  • Create new value
  • Extract predictable profit from this value
  • Deliver value independent of the entrepreneur (Maintain)
  • Expand without explicit direction from the entrepreneur (Grow)

This is still high level. There are sub-components to this that better identify where the edge is. E.g. if you’re not creating predictable profit, what shows where the opportunity for growth is there? My gut is that there is one level deeper where this provides real traction on how to think about where your opportunities to invest in growth are.

We tend to bitch about our challenges. But challenges, even self-imposed ones, are the doorway to growth.

Featured image is Julius Caesar pausing on the banks of the Rubicon. The Rubicon was the river that Roman generals were required to disband their armies before entering Rome. By crossing that threshold with his army, he made civil war unavoidable. He is said to have uttered, alea iacta est – ‘the die is cast.’ Illustration by the 19th century British artist E. M. Synge and used under public domain.