The Execution Factor by Kim Perell

Jan 10, 2019

The motivations and practices that lead to achievement have fascinated me as an area of academic study for many years.  One conclusion I have reached regarding entrepreneurial success is that many business owners come from families that have a genetic disposition toward business & entrepreneurship where concepts & practices are taught across generations in “kitchen table” discussions and through direct mentorship.   

My family has an entrepreneurial heritage from my Grandfather Cy who sold fruit from a cart in the depression to help support his family to my Uncle Irving who established one of the first multiple location, multiple state chains of optometric centers in the United States.   One of the brightest entrepreneurial stars in my family is Kim Perell (  Kim is the CEO of Amobee, an Angel Investor, and Award-Winning motivational & business speaker.  She also recently wrote a Best-Selling book, The Execution Factor.  I had the opportunity to read The Execution Factor over the holiday season.  

My initial interest in the book was based on my familial relationship to the author, Kim Perell.  However, as a voracious reader and entrepreneur myself who is constantly seeking knowledge, new ideas, and an individual that has interacted with entrepreneurs professionally hearing their stories for approximately twenty-five years in the facilitation of transactions involving the sale of privately held companies and family businesses, I can convey that the content is substantive and conveys a framework for success as an entrepreneur.  It is a worthy read for anyone looking to enhance company performance in 2019 or start down an entrepreneurial path.

The foundation of the book is a five-component set of factors (Vision, Passion, Action, Resilience, and Relationships) that contribute to business success or failure.  Similar components of success have been conveyed before in business books, but the difference in this presentation is the emphasis on execution, or as the author articulates on page 12, “Your idea is just a dream until you execute it”.  I could not agree more from an entrepreneurial perspective.  Many people have good ideas for products and services, however unless they can bring them to market at an appropriate price and generate sufficient customer demand the “plane will never get off the runway”.  To use a Pacific Northwest example, coffee was readily available at a spectrum of locations before Starbucks, but the execution implemented by Howard Schultz changed the way the public obtained a common beverage for generations and built one of the strongest retail sector companies in the world.

The book features an interesting & diverse set of supporting documentation.  On pages 51 & 52 the author references the research of Virginia Tech professor emeritus, David Kohl, who found that 80% of Americans do not have any type of definable goals and that people who write down their goals earn nine times more in their lifetime than people who don’t have goals.  This is definitely food for thought for everyone with aspirations of achievement in 2019. It is also likely the reason a SBA loan requires the borrower to submit a business plan to the bank. Ms. Perell concludes the section with the pithy, “So don’t just think it. Ink it!” articulating the concept in a manner that has the potential to create memory resonation.  

I strongly believe that passion (The second trait in The Execution Factor) is the fuel that leads to professional achievement.  Passion is what gets the future Olympic gold medal swimmer to the pool day after day before school to train at a young age and the software developer to spend weekends creating code rather than hiking in the Cascades on beautiful summer days.  As my father says, “If you do not want to get out of bed in morning to go to work, it is time to change your job.” However, passion can be a volatile component for an entrepreneur’s recipe for success as it can result in depletion of resources and financial implosion.  It can also be the motivation behind pushing through to the promised land when the future looked most bleak. Again, the author of The Execution Factor succinctly coveys an important concept in a memorable manner when she writes, “To be successful, your confidence must be greater than everyone else’s doubt” on page 82. This is a bathroom mirror quote that any entrepreneur would benefit from reading at the start of each day.  Ms. Perell also spends significant time on the importance of Resilience (The 4th component of The Execution Factor) in the book which I believe is naturally paired with Action as a business concept.  History is filled with entrepreneurs who failed only to achieve greatness with their second or third business venture.  It is not what they do when things are going well, but when they are challenged that defines an entrepreneur.

The third trait of The Execution Factor is Action.  No achievement is possible without action.  Important concepts conveyed about action in the book include that “One Step is All You Need to Get Going”.  One illustration of this concept is information about the Japanese concept of kaizen on page 119.  The author’s definition of the word is as follows “kaizen is about making continuous positive changes to increase productivity and improve your life. Each step may seem small, but taken cumulatively, what they lead to is big changes”.  This is critical information from an entrepreneurial perspective for those companies that fail to evolve are destined to eventually fail. Evolution occurs often in small incremental steps, sometimes so imperceptible that only executive management knows a change in direction or practice is occurring, for example updating & modifying Google Adword campaigns, something companies should do regularly.  However, without constant assessment & enhancement by executive management it is a fact that no company will reach its potential. Here is an interesting thing to ponder that came up in conversation with my son as we drove past a former Sears location recently. Sears was Amazon before Amazon. Today, Amazon is one of the top retailers in the world and Sears is a case study of the rise & fall of an iconic American company. Think where Sears would be today, if their executive management had embraced and invested in an E commerce business model a couple of decades ago from their platform of a dominant brick & mortar retailer.

Another concept conveyed in the section of the book on Action was related to having the resources necessary for success as an entrepreneur.  Ms. Perell accurately conveys on page 129 that “Everything will be twice as hard, take twice as long, and cost twice as much as you think it will” as a business owner.  A more important concept could not be incorporated into an entrepreneur’s business plan. IBA, as the oldest business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest, is approached annually by entrepreneurs with excellent business concepts & models who are failing due to a lack of sufficient resources.  Many of these business owners need to sell to salvage part of their investment. This is not the position any entrepreneur wants to be in, so it is important to be conservative and have safety nets when determining the resources necessary to achieve a business goal. As a general rule, IBA, the most selective sell side representation business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest, only represents business owners that want to sell, not those that need to sell.  We do this because we like to achieve premium values for our clients in the marketplace and negotiate from a position of strength with buyers.

The final component of The Execution Factor is Relationships.   Business is much more enjoyable when it is a collaborative enterprise.  As Ms. Perell conveys on page 142 when talking about her success as an entrepreneur, “My success is defined by doing what I love with people I care about every day and helping them achieve their visions.  Success is best when shared with employees, partners, clients, friends, family, and your community.” As an entrepreneur, I encourage you think about this statement. Does Kim Perell sound like someone you would like to work for or do business with?  It should be the goal of every entrepreneur to be the company others want to work for or do business with. It is a primary goal of IBA.

Execution is the foundation of achievement.   The Execution Factor is an excellent resource for any entrepreneur looking to enhance the performance of their company or start a new business in 2019.   I end with one of my favorite quotes from the book, “One day or some-day is not a real day, like Monday or Tuesday. It’s a trap for inaction – for playing it safe and getting distracted by thinking too long about things too far ahead.”  I hope all entrepreneurs execute on their ideas and achieve the success they desire in 2019. Entrepreneurial success (The American Dream) is good for the economy, creates employment, generates taxes to provide a social safety net, and provides professional fulfillment and financial rewards to the members of society with ideas willing to take risks.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, and mergers & acquisitions community on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.