If you're in a company that's been around for a number of years and growing (or not) there's a good chance that you've lost some of that startup spirit. And by startup I don't only mean you're in a tech company run by a bunch of twenty-somethings. Quite the contrary, it could be any business that started from nothing but now has a lot of processes created by people who might not even be there anymore, ground in systems that you're comfortable with, and status quo gets you growing at the same pace for years.
So how do you turn it around and start thinking like a startup? I just had a meeting with a VC who was talking about how he would sell our business dashboards at my new startup Dasheroo, into the enterprise market. He said "Janine, I'm unencumbered by reality." A quote used by Ben Lutch about how he founded the first search engine Excite. That's a great starting point for my next 5 on how you need to think like a startup!
If you hire someone who has started a business and either succeeded or failed, they likely know what hard work is and probably they have a ton of ideas of what to do or more importantly what not to do. At small business CRM provider Infusionsoft over half of their salespeople have one or more businesses on the side! That's a pretty amazing stat and one of the reasons why their company is so successful.
Engage With Your Customers
When was the last time you emailed one-on-one with your customers? Do you know why they come to you? Do you know how they found you? If you knew that wouldn't you do more of whatever that is?
At Dasheroo we send an email to every one of our users from our CEO John, asking them those very questions. Do you know that 20% of them answer that question? Staggering. John replies to each and every one of them asking if there's anything else they need from us, and thanking them for using us. It even starts a dialog where we can email them these 5 questions for a case study to include on our site:
- How many employees work at your company
- What did you use before you found Dasheroo? How long did it take you to gather your metrics?
- What are the most important features you need in a dashboard ?
- What new insights did you gain using Dasheroo?
- Does more than one team member use Dasheroo? What other functions in the company might find value in Dasheroo?
The more you know about your customers and their needs the more you can enhance their experience and get more customers. Which leads me to my next idea...
Act Today, Because Someone Else Will Tomorrow
This one I can't stress enough, and it can't be just you following through on this tip. You can act now all you want but if your team isn't behind you, and you rely on them for getting stuff done, you'll fail.
In an interview with Jimmy Fallon at the NExTWORK Conference, Napster co-founder Sean Parker talks about why Facebook killed Myspace: "The failure to execute product development," Parker replies. "They weren't successful in treating and evolving the product enough, it was basically this junk heap of bad design that persisted for many many years." At one point in time MySpace was valued at $1.5 billion. Act today.
Your Competition is Big, So How Will You Will Beat Them?
Whether you run a clothing store on Main St. or you're developing the next social network, you need to be the best at what you do. You need to think that you compete with Walmart and Macy's, and Facebook and Twitter. Because you will. You need to outsmart, be better than and more nimble than them.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanik had some tough competition, the worldwide taxicab industry. And blockers too: a ton of state and local laws surrounding a car for hire. Did it stop him? No way. They are simply obliterating the taxicab industry and continue to fight laws city by city and country by country.
I'm an avid Uber user for the last 5 years, and early adopter. Last week I got into a taxi from the airport. This taxi was the reason I don't use taxis anymore. Garbage was thrown everywhere and the van sounded like it wasn't going to make it up a San Francisco hill. I had to move my feet around the driver's personal bag and when we hit a bump a bottle of hydrogen peroxide fell on me (no idea where it came from.) The driver dropped us off and gave us a card for $10 off our next Flywheel ride and said "You know Uber is really killing us." Really?
Don't Fear Change
My last point here is important - keep yourself open to new ideas and change. Assess a process you put in place 3 years ago that might be slowing you down today. Stop doing something just "because you always did it like that." If that entrepreneur you hired has a great idea, embrace it, and publicly thank them for it.
Apple launched the iPod in 2001; as a personal computer company what was Steve Jobs thinking? The music industry? He started Pixar. What was he thinking? The movie industry? He thought differently and embraced change, he never feared it. From one of the only Apple ads where Steve himself narrated: "Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
Want some inspiration? Watch it...
So there you have it. Five ways you can take your company to the next level. The good news is, you can do all of these things today, because if you don't someone will beat you to it tomorrow.