Chris Harper Of ZippedScript On 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business
Learn how your people are most productive and structure their workflow to suit that. We know that our developer’s work needs are very different from our management team’s needs, so we schedule people’s tasks according to their roles and personalities and never try to make everyone fit inside the same box.
Startups usually start with a small cohort of close colleagues. But what happens when you add a bunch of new people into this close cohort? How do you maintain the company culture? In addition, what is needed to successfully scale a business to increase market share or to increase offerings? How can a small startup grow successfully to a midsize and then large company? To address these questions, we are talking to successful business leaders who can share stories and insights from their experiences about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business”. As a part of this series, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Chris Harper.
After starting his first business at the age of 17 selling customized light switch covers, Harper went on to found and exit multiple firms, including a cocktail mixer business that gained significant scale in Canada. Along the way, he picked up a patent in distributed computing, and also befriended David Alexander- two developments that would forever change his life. Harper and Alexander went on to found ZippedScript, a first of its kind firm poised to disrupt the worlds of education and employment verification with new proprietary technology. Harper is a passionate problem-solver who loves sales and leading dynamic, ambitious teams. His mantra is “‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is a terrible saying. If it could be better, it’s as good as broken.’” ZippedScript verifies higher education claims instantly from any institution on the planet, leveraging nascent proprietary technology. With ZippedScript, companies get the most accurate results the industry has yet to see; results are conclusive, on time, and cheaper than ever.
Thank you for joining us in this interview series. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
I was born, dropped out of college & started multiple businesses. Some failed, some succeeded but one thing is certain: I never stop trying!
I grew up playing sports, which had a big role in molding me into the extremely competitive person I am today. In retrospect, it only seems natural that I’d find my way into a line of business where I believe the best minds on planet earth compete.
You’ve had a remarkable career journey. Can you highlight a key decision in your career that helped you get to where you are today?
Dropping out of college & giving myself permission to pursue a high risk, high reward life. I cannot stress enough how much this decision was right for me. Is it for everybody? Absolutely not. But, I believe there are not enough contrarian voices out there these days asking young people to truly consider whether or not this is the right path- and I mean that all the way down to the debt! For me, college was simply not the way. I think we need to remove the stigma around this, big time.
What’s the most impactful initiative you’ve led that you’re particularly proud of?
I’m currently very proud of the team we curated for my current business, ZippedScript. We made a point of hiring outsiders and it’s paying off. We’re currently working to create a groundswell of important changes within the education verification space. We’re doing a project right now on LinkedIn where users can voluntarily use our tech to verify their degrees. When they do, they get a blue check mark, indicating they’ve participated in verifying their ed credentials. In my industry, this is huge, as we’ll be able to prove that the trend we’re ushering in will be consumer-driven, which will have huge implications.
Sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a mistake you’ve made and the lesson you took away from it?
Not staying focused on one thing and scaling it. Instead, I would scale to a point and look for another shiny object. When–not if–you hit a roadblock, know it’s to be expected and is typically a sign that you’re on the right path. Don’t get discouraged or jump to another thing. Instead, consult mentors, push harder & develop the new mindset that is required to pass through that temporary roadblock. Keep the main thing the main thing. Your dreams exist on the other side of the roadblocks. Keep going!
How has mentorship played a role in your career, whether receiving mentorship or offering it to others?
Mentorship has played a major role in my journey. Whether it’s mentors I’ve never met in person via a book or video, or mentors I know personally. Learning from others who have “been there and done it” allows you to avoid a lot of mistakes. I’ve heard it said, “A smart man learns from his mistakes. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” I really enjoy mentoring others as well. Helping a fellow entrepreneur tunnel through what they thought was a brick wall gets me as excited as it gets them!
Developing your leadership style takes time and practice. Who do you model your leadership style after? What are some key character traits you try to emulate?
My leadership style is to be me. I don’t model it after anyone but my life experiences. I realized at a young age if I wanted to get something done I’d need an amazing team to accomplish it. Excitement, direction and transparency attract great people. Constant challenges, growth & empathy keep them.
Thank you for sharing that with us. Let’s talk about scaling a business from a small startup to a midsize and then large company. Based on your experience, can you share with our readers the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business”? Please give a story or example for each.
1. Don’t be afraid to make your big idea truly big. From day one at ZippedScript, we started building a global solution. Not every business model needs to start small and slowly grow. If your solution is something people all over the world can use, find a way to reach as many of them as possible.
2. Speed is a great differentiator. If you can deliver in days, or even seconds, what used to take weeks — you have the makings of a truly disruptive product. With education and employment verification every hour a business spends waiting on results can have major implications for both the hiring company and the job seeker — especially in a competitive job market. That’s why we’ve focused on providing the fastest most accurate results in the industry.
3. Learn how your people are most productive and structure their workflow to suit that. We know that our developer’s work needs are very different from our management team’s needs, so we schedule people’s tasks according to their roles and personalities and never try to make everyone fit inside the same box.
4. Don’t assume technology will always make things easier. While the remote work boom has allowed companies to hire talent from all over the world, it has created the need for easier ways of verifying people’s credentials and keeping their data safe. Even as a startup with a few employees, your hiring, onboarding, and data security plans must be well thought out and scalable.
5. Seek out partnerships that will allow you to pass even more value on to the end-user. For ZippedScript, our proprietary technology and LinkedIn’s platform are a great match for offering the consumer a solution where they already are.
Can you share a few of the mistakes that companies make when they try to scale a business? What would you suggest to address those errors?
Don’t just fill positions to fill positions. Spend a majority of your time in the hiring process. It will take longer, but finding great people will strengthen your odds of success. On the flip side, hiring bad people will surely ruin your chances of success.
Scaling includes bringing new people into the organization. How can a company preserve its company culture and ethos when new people are brought in?
You and your management know the culture. Look for people who are a culture fit with how you operate on a day to day basis. Be picky and do however many interviews you must to find the right people. It’s worth it.
In my work, I focus on helping companies to simplify the process of creating documentation of their workflow, so I am particularly passionate about this question. Many times, a key aspect of scaling your business is scaling your team’s knowledge and internal procedures. What tools or techniques have helped your teams be successful at scaling internally?
Our team meets three times a week to go over our tasks. Due to us being heavily focused on engineering we find software developers work best without constant meetings. We meet randomly throughout the week if absolutely necessary. I always ensure our team is aware of the bigger picture and how the task they are doing contributes to achieving that mission. No matter how small or big the task may be. We like to keep everything efficient and that’s reflected in the tools we use. We use few tools, but the ones we use are powerful. Slack, Trello and Github get the job done for us.
Because of your role, you are a person of significant influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, what would that be? You never know what your ideas can trigger.
I believe everyone on the planet has a great idea that lingers in their brain. Every now and then they wonder, “what if I went for it?” Sadly, most never do. I would give those people permission and encouragement to pursue their ideas. I believe innovation leads to a better life for all humans. Don’t let those ideas lay dormant in your brain — release them and share them with the rest of the world. We need more great ideas!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was truly meaningful! Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your expertise!