One of the greatest feelings an entrepreneur can experience is when his or her product or service finally gains traction and begins to gain product market fit. It takes an immense amount of effort and time to get to this stage, and you may be tempted to pause, reflect, and enjoy the moment.
This is the time when you should be putting your foot on the gas and trying to relentlessly improve. This is one of the things we learned running our company and something we talk a lot about in Shortcut Your Startup.
While the marginal improvements may seem smaller at this stage compared to the ones you faced when you were initially starting your company, the magnitude of their effects will now be greater.
To make this more palatable, consider the analogy on the power of compound interest, or what Albert Einstein (may or may not have) called "the eighth wonder of the world." It's well known that incrementally adding to your retirement account when you're just entering the workforce in your 20s has huge ramifications on your savings when you retire 40-50 years later.
This same logic applies to the incremental decisions you make at your company--seemingly small improvements (and mistakes, too!) have huge effects down the road.
From our perspective as both the founders of VEEV and investors in companies like Pinterest, Lyft, Bonobos, and Warby Parker, we realize how crucial the small, 1 percent improvements can be to a company's success.
We realize that these changes can be difficult to identify, so we have outlined 3 key areas to keep your eyes on:
Your team is your company's most important asset. Always think how it can be improved.
It's worth reiterating that your team is something that should always be focused on building a culture of improvement. Specifically, we cannot overstate the importance of hiring team members possessing an ownership-building mindset, which means that they have a vested interest in the company's success and don't solely focus on performing their daily tasks.
Next, consistently test your product. Adopt the mind of a customer: what could be improved to make your life easier?
Testing your product, your landing page, or your cart checkout page is often easier said than done. We recommend dividing the responsibilities into three parts. Assign somebody to own and oversee the test, another party to design the test, and a third one to analyze the results of the test.
Why? Clearly dividing responsibilities engages more of your team and sets the stage for your company to review its product more objectively and critically. Iterations are a necessary part of any business, and your team must have a systematic decision to implement and make sense of these tests. While these processes will help keep track of your business, we also must stress the importance of keeping track of yourself.
Finally, continuously focus on improving yourself.
If two of your goals are to improve your business and your team, it's only natural that you pay attention to improving yourself. This is something that is always ongoing but is extremely worthwhile to pay attention to.
Know your strengths and weaknesses. Beyond that, realize how your strengths and weaknesses can affect your company. Part of your hiring strategy should revolve around hiring team members that complement your skillset. In addition to your strengths and weaknesses, seek to expand your network. While connections in your industry are important, consider how you can learn from others in a completely unrelated field, as invaluable lessons aren't solely constrained to your industry.
In the end, launching your product, receiving favorable press, or reaching a financial milestone is no reason to let up on the gas--in fact, it is the time to keep pushing. This desire to constantly improve is a shared trait of successful companies.
If you focus on your product, your team, and yourself, your odds of success will increase dramatically! We talk more about this in our book, Shortcut Your Startup. Join the conversation!