Almost everyone has it wrong about how to get market traction in a startup. It doesn’t matter if you are bootstrapping your company or have raised 35 million dollars. A lot of companies hire a sales team right away. They are looking to scale their business and jump on the sales wagon. WRONG. Don’t hire a sales team, don’t hire a VP of sales, the only people who should be making sales are the founders. I’ll explain why in the next few paragraphs.
It is no secret that keeping ones focus in business is challenging. I’ve found this especially true in a startup. That uncertain phase after you’ve got a few early adopters and now are going after the early majority. It can be tough crossing that chasm. Customers went from liking your product because it was new, to now being a bit skeptical and reluctant because… it’s new. V973KE5R5TCC
I was browsing through books on business and leadership at Chapters and was alarmed at the number of authors who weren’t in business themselves. They were journalists for news agencies like the Wall Street Journal or professors at highly esteemed academic institutions. Wanting to get better at business myself I was looking to read about other entrepreneurs that had experienced similar hurdles to the ones I was facing. I wanted to know the hard learned strategies these entrepreneurs used, not a chapter about the value of discipline and what I ought to do to become a better leader.
Are you relevant? Is your product or service relevant? If you are trying to increase sales of a product you might have asked yourself these (or similar) questions. While relevance is in the top 5 most overused words of the last 5 years, it still applies to our businesses today. If your product or service is relevant to people they will buy it. It’s just another way of saying your product or service is of value to people. But words like value, relevance, proposition, niche, etc often get lost in the rubble of disassociation.
To celebrate I am giving away a book. Not just any book, this is actually my favorite book on business. Growing a Business by Paul Hawken.
I first read this book after having closed shop of Saint Clothing. I had just graduated with my degree and was looking at starting a new venture with my now business partners. This book was extremely encouraging and helpful. It lays out such simple and useful strategies on how to grow a business from the ground up.
After having read many books on business since then, this one remains my favorite.
Okay, so how can you win it? Easy, just make a comment on any of the posts on this blog and you are automatically entered. It will be a random draw and I will announce it here on Machiine.com October 24, the one year birthday of Machiine.
Again, a big thanks for reading this blog and encouraging me to keep writing posts with your visits.
I’ve had a crazy week. Steve, Angela and I have been asking ourselves very important questions like, “What are the needs of our customers?” And we have struggled to come up with definitive answers. Last friday we sat around our boardroom with beers and taco chips hashing out the different layers of our customers needs. It was both fun and frustrating. After 2 hours our meeting had come right back to the beginning and our questions remained unanswered. The truth is we weren’t confident we had nailed it.
This week I attended the GrowTalks in Vancouver with Steve. It doesn’t take a genius to become successful, that’s something I’ve learned over the last three years running a startup. What it takes is the ability to remain focused and apply the good things we learn along the way (and a little bit of luck). Our 48 hours in Vancouver at Grow was a mix of learning and luck. The first speakers of the morning came out, they were fired up and told everyone in the audience that they were inspiring leaders, in fact they were visionaries. *Cough, then they spit out what they really thought. “You are not visionaries!”
The crowd kind of laughed awkwardly, hoping they were kidding, but then fell silent after realizing they were not. I loved it, they caught my attention and I knew the day was going to be good. The next speaker spoke about UX/UI. Well she spoke about User Experience actually, and not very subtly drew a line in the sand arguing persuasively that User Experience was very different from User Interface and must not be confused as such. Right now there are UI/UX bloggers rolling over in their graves, I mean their beds, towards their keyboards to differ.
But quickly as the day progressed the talks began hitting closer and closer to home. They were discussing how they had solved the very questions we were struggling to answer. I had this uncomfortable feeling that either every speaker was secretly spying on us and planned everything they were going to talk about by watching what we were doing, or every single company in the room was struggling with the exact same problems we were. Neither conclusion seemed very reassuring. Either we were unique and naked or we were similar and uninteresting. In the end it didn’t matter. What mattered was that we lucked out. We were privileged to be in a room with people willing to talk about how they had solved the very problems we were facing.
There is something magical when luck and learning line up. Ultimately, though this magical week of learning would be useless if we did not apply it. Upon arriving back in the office today, Steve and I shared our new found insights with the team, drew up a simple strategy based on what we had learned from the conference and started executing. It’s true, I’m not lying. We have drawn up a two week discovery strategy and have already started implementing it. After many attempts at trying to implement status-quo shattering strategies we have discovered that habits form quickly, but significant shifts in behaviours and patterns only take place when we are intentional about executing the strategies we form. Learning is great, but it is useless unless we apply it. We, as a team, don’t want to be the hard ground that good words fell on and then died. For soil to grow good crops the seeds need to be planted and the work needs to be done.