What gold mining can teach us about building a successful business
To the dismay of my wife, one of my favorite TV shows right now is Gold Rush, a reality show that features a hard-up group of men who decide to risk it all and head to the Yukon to mine for gold.
My wife doesn’t understand why I like it, and for a while, I couldn’t put my finger on it either. But I’ve been giving it some thought, and I’ve realized what makes it so interesting to me.
I can’t pull myself away from Gold Rush because I respect the miners’ focus, empathize with their struggles, and share their drive for success, despite being in a comfortable office rather than the Klondike.
The gold, and the process of getting it, mirrors my own experience with the “natural resource” that we value so much at my agency: people.
It may sound like a stretch at first, but upon breaking it down, the parallels between mining gold and building an exceptional team are striking…
Searching for Hidden Treasure
In mining, it takes great skill to identify ground that has a high likelihood of containing gold.
After all, the only way to be sure of buried treasure is to mine it, which is an incredibly costly process. Being able to assess an area enough to make some assumptions about it, and then knowing how to do the right testing are critical to picking the right ground.
In hiring, there are many capable people who don’t yet possess the skills required to do the work you need them to do yet. But they could, given the right opportunity, training and environment.
Nobody has the resources to test every potential employee (or potential mining spot).
Hiring well requires knowing how to spot the people who have that potential inside them, and being able to ask the right questions to determine if investing in them will bring the results you need.
There’s exponentially more value in identifying untapped gold (and talent) than competing for gold (or talent) that’s already been mined.
Extracting Gold From Gravel
Once you’ve successfully identified ground that contains gold, the hard work begins. Extracting gold is a difficult process which requires planning, persistence, heavy equipment, lots of manual labor and often significant setbacks.
Nurturing a new hire into a key player is a similar process.
You need to plan well to ensure that they’re given the right training and assignments to learn and grow quickly.
You need to be persistent and actively help them improve every step of the way.
You need to give them the right tools to succeed, and the support from the team members that will guide them to success.
You need to understand it’s not a linear process— there will be setbacks. Determining the source of your obstacles, then overcoming them lets you turn a step back into two steps forward.
In the end, you’re left with something that anyone can see is valuable, but that very few can (or are willing to take the time and resources to) produce.
Identification, extraction, and refinement is the key to building a successful company which relies so heavily on natural resources.
Find Your Gold
At MojoTech our gold is, without a doubt, people.
Your gold might be different.
But the key is to know what’s valuable to you and your company, and create a process to produce as much of it as you can.
That’s not an easy process, which is why building a startup is often so hard: finding that one key thing to focus on often takes a lot of effort, experimentation and failure.
But it’s critical to success.
Gold miners know that gold is the most valuable thing to their success, so 100% of their efforts are put towards getting more gold.
Treat your business the same way.
Get the gold.