In aviation, there are four forces that affect things that fly:
Thrust - the force that propels a flying machine in the direction of motion.
Drag - the force that acts opposite to the direction of motion.
Weight - the force of gravity.
Lift - the force that acts at a right angle to the direction of motion through the air.
In a start-up, thrust is provided by capital (monetary such as revenue/cashflow and investment capital and human/intellectual capital). The opposing horizontal force, or “drag”, is created by limited resources and the competitive forces targeting your customers and employees as well as alternatives/substitutes and new market entrants.
Weight, a fact of life, conspires against conventional flight much the same way that the Normal Distribution illustrates the likelihood of the success of a start-up. Entrepreneurs start companies despite knowing that 9 in 10 start-ups will fail. Lift, the opposing force, is created by a company’s differentiation and the team’s execution and commitment (along with a little hubris and perhaps ignorance).
If these opposing forces are not equal, then you will certainly crash. And if you are flying in the clouds, without a visual reference to the natural horizon (which is what it’s like in a start-up most days) then attention to detail is even more critical because if you aren’t careful, your nose will drop below the horizon and put you into an inverted dive. Flying upside down is not intrinsically hard, but sooner or later it must come to an end.
Entrepreneurs have an immense capacity to be optimistic and to ignore obstacles, risks and doubt. A good entrepreneur, like a good pilot, learns how to fly straight and recognize which way is up. And, once you can maintain straight and level flight, then you can soar higher and faster.
To help entrepreneurs and corporate innovators maintain "level flight" and to soar "higher and faster" we have brought together, in one place, for one day, some of the leading thinkers, dreamers and artists to inspire, demonstrate and share their practical, authentic and actionable advice and life lessons.