As the holidays roll around and we look ahead to the second year of SomaSole, I can’t help reflecting on the incredible journey thus far. I like to live by the words of President Johnson: “We can draw lessons from the past, but we cannot live in it.” I always keep my eyes on the road ahead, but find the most powerful growth in learning and adjusting from actions in the past. As I finish up with my personal training certification program with NASM, I'm struck by the similarities between the growth of a startup and the progression of an exercise program. Here is what I mean.
NASM personal training is based on five stages, one stage of stabilization, three stages of strength and one stage power. These five levels differ based on goals and acute variables, such as number of reps, amount of rest, or level of intensity. Different goals lead to different combinations of the five steps, but each program begins with stabilization. I am going to focus today on building a foundation.
Stabilization, the first stage, is about building a foundation on which everything stands as you move forward. So often in exercise, this initial step is forgotten, deemed unnecessary, or just flat out skipped because doing step-ups onto a box may seem boring. But the truth is, whether you want to get ripped or start a company, stabilization may very well be the most important step in the entire process.
In a fitness program, when you decide you are too macho to do balance exercises and thus skip ahead to attempting deep squats, you will develop numerous muscle compensations and something called synergistic dominance, where a helping muscle improperly takes over for the main muscle. These imbalances may be so tiny that they are only exposed when you tear your ACL, like the other 100,000 people who do annually in the U.S. [source]
Focusing on stabilization, the first level, is just as critical to a successful business. There are too many horror stories of small errors regarding legal issues, with say I.P., or equity structuring, that seem so minuscule at the time, but result in complete implosion of the business down the road. This thorough establishment of proper form from the beginning is a main focus of our team at SomaSole. It's a mentality that stems from one of our trusted advisors, Shannon Turley, who leads the Stanford football team with the same approach. Turley regularly has his athletes remove plates for a squat in order to complete the movement correctly, and we follow his lead in a business sense.
This emphasis on a strong and stable foundation is not only about prevention of problems, but rather, is vital to building consistency across different parts of the company. Let’s take branding. Brands that do not focus on this initial stabilization and attention to defining the brand from every angle, whether age, gender, occupation, etc, will eventually make decisions that stray from the original brand. Each decision might only be a little off, but those minor differences add up, and eventually the brands will fail.
At SomaSole, right now and every day, we are building our foundation. Critical to this foundation is developing a strong core of advisors, who know where the most mistakes are made. If we can trace these mistakes back to what compensations were made or imbalances that were established, we can hone in on what we can do now, in the early stages of our company, to not only prevent later injury, but also create the foundational structure that will support huge decisions later. At the end of the day, It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it's the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time. (-David Coe)