The #1 Secret to Entrepreneur Success: Burn the Boats

BY Eddy Hood In Profitability On Jun 18, 2013 With 2 Comments

You’re about to attack an army of savage barbarians.

They stand 7 feet tall, are bloodthirsty and carry weapons far superior to yours. Oh yeah, and you’re outnumbered 3 to 1. But you’ve got to do it. If you don’t, they’re going to invade your village soon and destroy everything you love, including your family.

Standing on the shores of their land, you look back at your men who are all shaking in their boots. Each one of them being careful not stray too far from the boats as they await your command.

You’re grateful for those boats. They’re your safe haven. You can still turn back you know. You could also start the fight and run back to the boats if everything goes awry.

Suddenly you realize that you’re doomed to die unless you take decisive action as a leader. You walk over to the boats and burn them. Some of your men faint in a total panic; others begin splashing water on the boats to try and put the fire out.

But it’s no use. You’re stuck here.


Now what? You’re men look at you with an eye of desperation and sheer dependence. The only thing to do now is march forward and find a way to make it work.

100% is Not Enough for Real Entrepreneur Success

You want your company to win. I do too. That’s why I’m here with you. But you’ll never win if you’re taking a half-baked approach in business.

If you’re going to build a multi-million dollar company, you need to burn the boats. I know that all the “Easy-does-it” people in the room are going to shoot me for this, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. If you have a crutch that you’re relying on, you’ll never succeed until you get rid of it.

I’ve had to go through this myself many times. The toughest was when I actually started Ignite Spot. In order to burn the boats, I quit my day job cold turkey. I had a plan of course, but I didn’t have a single client. I drove home that day to my wife and kids and silently swore under my breath.

“Holy #$%# What Have I Done?”

I looked at them and felt sick to my stomach. It was a crazy move, but do you know what it did? It got my butt out of the chair and into the offices of prospective clients that very afternoon.

I didn’t have time to ease into it. I would have gone broke. I had a mortgage after all!

Within 3 weeks of working my tail off, I had enough billings that I could support my family. I wasn’t rich, but I had what I needed and was doing work that I loved.

Had I kept my day job while I tried to get those clients, I wouldn’t be here talking you today. I would have relied on that job as a crutch.

That’s an extreme example, but you can see how it applies. Your business needs the best of you at all times.

Why it Works

When you burn your boats, there’s a little voice in your head that begins to evaluate life. It says, “Holy Crap, the boats are burned. We have to save ourselves, because nobody else is going to do it for us!”

5 Boats You Can Burn Today

Let’s talk about 5 boats that are sitting on the shores of most existing businesses. Are you ready to burn them and go to the next level?

Boat #1 – Ineffective Marketing

Are you still investing in that marketing campaign that’s brining in a minimal return? You know it’s not working for your business, but you keep dumping cash into it anyways for the sake of “brand awareness”. If so, you’re relying on a familiar way of doing business rather than digging into more relevant marketing channels that will bring in revenue.

If the marketing campaign isn’t brining in direct dollars for your investment, cut it out and reinvest that cash into something that will. Burn the boat and force yourself to spend time researching what works.

Boat #2 – The Curmudgeon

Do you have that employee that’s been around for years and keeps the ship running? You know the guy that’s a total jerk if you don’t do things his way?

I know it’s scary to let someone like this go, but you might need to do it. These kinds of people don’t play ball, they resist new ways to improve the processes and they make everybody around them @#!*% off.

Burn the boat and get rid of this person. You’ll be forced to figure out what they did, but this will put you in a position to streamline processes, inject some technology and fix your suffocating culture.

Boat #3 – You

Yes You. Did you know that you’re a massive crutch to your company? You need to get other people to do the work so that you can get out of the technicians seat and into the driver’s spot.

Burn the boat and fire yourself. Get someone who can service the customers for you so that you can develop your business full-time. There’s no excuse for you to be doing the staff’s job.

Boat #4 – Your accountant

I get it. You trust your accountant, and things have worked fine up to this point.

But have they really?

If you ever feel like you don’t know where the business stands financially, you’re not set up to run your business.

At least, not to run it well.

If you have an accountant that is feeding you incorrect information, don’t keep them around just because you like them. This is your business after all and the finances must work. Burn the boat and get an accountant that cares.

Boat #5 – Your business model

This one is a biggie. You may be in an industry that’s dying. The sad part is that you know it and you’re not willing to see the writing on the wall, because let’s be honest, that would be painful. It would mean retooling the company, or heaven forbid, shutting it down.

An example is the newspaper business. There is no reason what so ever to be in that industry today. It’s on a path to crash and burn, so get out of the plane while you can and bring as many of your customers with you.

Burn the boats by exiting a dying industry. Don’t stay just because you know how to do the work.

Leave Us a Comment Below

What boats have you burned in your business? How has that helped you find ways of succeeding that you never thought were possible before?

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My name is Eddy Hood. I've coached over 500 businesses on how to become more profitable. I'm the Founder & CEO of Ignite Spot, and I have mad parallel parking skills.

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