In part 1 of this series I posed the question, are you building something bigger than yourself? “A company needs a core vision, a rally cry, that everyone on staff can come behind.” Today, I want to focus on the second half of the question, ”What does it mean to actually believe that you have everything you need to build something way bigger than yourself?”
Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great.
You have everything you need. You are capable. That’s it, the end of this post, right. But we don’t really believe that do we? Maybe you do. A lot of times I don’t. We’re in the 4th year of building our business. We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work with some amazing mentors at our local tech accelerator Accelerate Okanagan. As the meetings progressed I began to realize how little I knew about building a tech startup when we started. While encouraging, it was also tough listening to stories of these overnight successes. It made me think of everything we should have done in the first few years of business, but didn’t. Trying not to feel like a failure, I would think, well if we had an experienced marketing person, maybe then we would be further ahead. Or maybe if we had more programmers we would be able to build the great feature rich tools we envision, while simultaneously handling tech support and juggling feature creep. Never once did it occur to me that maybe we had everything we needed already.
In the first year of building a startup you have so much energy. This is stage one, when we truly believed if we build it they will come. You can run after anything, build anything, work all night and keep working throughout the next morning to hit the impossible deadline that we set ourselves (and didn’t know was impossible). After a year of stage one and slow initial customer adoption denial quickly followed and Stage two began. We need to try more strategies, tweak the product, find that grove. We need to work harder.
6 months later … burnout … denial abruptly turns into devastation. Stage three. Maybe we should throw in the towel. Maybe it’s the team, maybe the idea wasn’t good enough, a lot of maybes. Luckily for me I have an amazing team and great partners that encouraged me to stick with it. Stage four – hope. In our case during the last three stages customers kept signing up, retention rates were high, and we could see that something good was happening. In stage four we were open to suggestions. It was around this time that we got connected to these amazing people at Accelerate Okanagan. They asked us good questions, made us question how we did things, gave us names for some of the things we were doing, things like Product Market Fit, Product Validation and Value/Proposition Statement, but didn’t know what to call them. Before AO we were more of a DIY company, than a startup.
Through good advice and excellent business strategies we knew what we needed to do. Stage five. Acceptance. I accepted the fact that I was accountable for our current situation. Unfortunately, as I looked at our track record of the last few years reality struck, and I began to doubt that we had what it took to achieve our goals. Too much to do and too little man power. We needed a marketing person, we needed programmers, we needed sales people. As a bootstrapped company reality sunk in hard and fast. We couldn’t hire anyone else. We would have to do with what we have.
These last few months I’ve discovered stage six, a paradigm shift. I wouldn’t of discovered this precious gem had we not been limited in our resources. I’ve watched as everyone on our team has come together, in unison, and have achieved more than I thought was possible with us alone. We have 7 great people on our team. 7 amazing team players.
You have everything you need to be successful. When there were only the 3 of us, I wanted more. If we only had 2 more people on the team, then we would have everyone we need. When we had 5 on our team, if only we had one more teammate. Then we would have everything we need. The irony is that we always had everything we needed. Had it just been one of us, we had everything we needed to be successful. For me it was hard to believe this, before I discovered it myself.
So I encourage you. Whatever your dream is. If you are working alone or with a team of 30 people – you have everything you need to be successful – even if you don’t believe it just yet.
You have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself.Seth Godin
I help people build better web apps and make a difference in the world. I enjoy sharing what I am learning and find interesting. I live on the Left Coast of Canada with my wife. Follow me on Twitter.