As another year comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on, of course, the last year of running my own startup, but also on the seven years before that. I'm often asked how it feels to be running this company, now eight years in. Don't get me wrong--I love what I do. But in today's day and age of getting a new job every 18 months to two years, it's hard to believe I've been at Kiip this long.
The new year is also a time for recharging and refreshing; trying new strategies and tactics to bring your company success. But even as goals change and our company changes, there are four main lessons I've learned that I try to hold onto. Keeping this advice in mind has allowed Kiip to continue growing and evolving, and can do the same for any startup or business.
Building A Movement Takes Time
Time moves so fast that a lot of things that are part of our daily lives feel like they sort of just, showed up here. It's difficult to remember what the world was like before Google, or before Twitter. But the myth of overnight success is just that: a myth.
Quora was founded in 2009. Twitch, the streaming company, started at JustinTV in 2007. You need multiple cycles in the market to test if your product needs stand the test of time. You've got to be in it for the long haul, and be dedicated to outlasting your competition. This involves always staying on top of what your competition is doing, and studying how your consumers are behaving and evolving, so that you can give them what they want before they know they want it. If you can patiently work toward that, your time will come.
The Key Tenets of Foundership
Being a CEO is one thing. But being a CEO and a founder is another thing entirely. As a founder, you will probably have a different level of investment in your company's success. To work toward that success, remember the key tenets of foundership:
- Create an environment that people enjoy working in.
- Create a product that people want to buy, continually.
- Make sure you're still having fun in the process.
If you're running into trouble, try coming back to these, and see which one is being disrupted, so you can tackle the problem appropriately.
There's a toxic glorification of being "aggressive" in startup culture, and tech in general. The toxicity comes from equating being "aggressive" with being mean, which has never been and will never be the answer.
Everything comes back around. In eight years, I've seen old colleagues start billion dollar companies, and have even seen former customers become Chief Marketing Officers. Old employees leave and come back. It's not worth being mean to people; they will remember.
There Is Life Beyond Your Startup
News of HQ and Vine founder Colin Kroll's death hit home, and rightfully so. Silicon Valley and VC culture perpetuate the myth of "grow or die." Sure, you can become a billion dollar company, and you should always aim high, but life is larger than that. No company is worth your mental and physical well-being.
Afford this to others, too; when people used to leave Kiip, I would take the hit personally. It felt like losing a limb, and that was very unhealthy. Know that people are not leaving you, they're looking out for themselves, just like we all should be.