3 not-so secrets to success

Day 1 in my funemployment: the retrospective.

I recently quit my job. It was agonizing decision but ultimately the right one for me personally and professionally. As I face my first day where I didn’t wake to a flood of emails, BBMs and texts or a massive todo list, I find myself retrospective: looking back across my career what are the keys to a company’s success.

Make something people want

This tenet should be both obvious and attributed to PaulG but sadly it’s not always adhered to. Whether you’re doing a B2C or B2B play, if you’re not making something people want, things just won’t happen for you. It doesn’t matter how savvy your marketing is or clever your PR, it’s easier to make things people want than make people want things. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself: who cares about my product and why? And all is not lost if people don’t want your product. Take the opportunity to listen, openly and honestly. Incorporate that feedback into making something people want.

Understand how people buy your product

Like “make something people want”, this is a deceptively simply statement about a complex topic. But in general think about who might buy your product, are there other decision makers?, are you creating a new market or launching into an established one? does your pricing align to how your customers value your product? where is there friction in your buying process? Eliminate it. You’ve made a product people want, now make it easy for them to buy it. Provide them with the info they need when they need it and if need be teach them how to evaluate and buy your product.

Have a great team

It doesn’t matter if you’re building a startup or scaling an established business, having a great team makes everything easier. I know this sounds obvious but it’s shockingly hard to do. I’m not talking about a homogenous team that loves to crush beers and play Ultimate together. It’s great to have friends at work and I’ve met my closest friends this way but really you want a team of people who respect one another and ideally bring different view points. Too much group think brings mediocrity not greatness. Find and hire people that you respect and challenge you. That doesn’t mean everything is a fight. Looking back at my best working relationships they all share a common theme of “passionate” discussions that end without knowing who added what to the idea but knowing that we ended in a better place. That’s nirvana.

There you have it

HBO’s Silicon Valley

It’s my belief that these three not-so secrets matter more than anything else based on years and years of experience at companies big and small. Sure you have to believe in what you’re doing and you want to have fun doing it but I submit if you manage to get the three above things lined up it’s almost impossible not to have a good time while building a great team and products people love. I’m curious if this lines up with other’s experiences. I’d love to hear what you think.