Sometimes, there is talking about getting stuff done Sometimes, there is putting processes in place to get stuff done Sometimes, there is estimating how long it will take and how much it will cost to get stuff done Sometimes, there is gathering requirements and documentation for the stuff that needs to get done Sometimes, there is politics, posturing or arguing about how to or who should get stuff done Sometimes, there is rationalizing or pointing fingers about why stuff is not getting done And then there is getting it done. If you’re not getting it done, nothing else matters.
Check the Gartner Magic Quadrant, do days of competitive research, engage a strategic consulting firm to identify your competition. Even after all this work, your top two competitors probably don’t show up. Why? Because your top two competitors are Do Nothing and Do It Ourselves. If you’re not competing against them, you’ll likely lose.
What will you do when standing on the edge of failure? Quit? Lie? Scream? Drink? Cry? Or maybe, you’ll reach out to your partners, team, investors, mentors, significant other, friends, etc. and share the issues you are facing. Chances are they’ll help you through it. Facing failure alone is scary and challenging. Asking for help makes it easier. And if you’re going to start a company, you’ll stand on that edge often.
When you are in the digital product delivery business, you must decide how to communicate with the business and commit to deliverables on a roadmap. The best scenario for everyone is to accurately estimate the scope of work and deliver against it. Almost impossible in a fast changing business with agile development. The question then becomes whether to over promise and under deliver, or under promise and over deliver. We’ve consistently been taught to do the latter – it’s the safer and less stressful road. However, when we over promise, we often end up getting much more done. It’s a truth that if you try to get more done, you often do. It just doesn’t always feel that way. When we over promise, we often miss dates, end up cutting promised scope, and risk burning out the team. That’s why we need to partner with the business to over promise together, [...]
One of the best things about starting your own business is that you get to (try to) build whatever type of company you want — including the culture. Everybody has been in organizations where the overall culture and values — or at least certain management styles — were more toxic than not, and a lack of leadership undermined employee morale and performance. So why would you want to see that in your own business? Surprisingly, start-ups and closely-held businesses often fail to instill values and foster a culture conducive to a positive and productive working environment. I’ve seen many small businesses where the organization’s culture was defined by the dynamic and dysfunction of its founders. In start-ups, where long hours, tight deadlines and high stress are the norm — and where high-performance and passion are critical to success — low morale and high turnover can be a recipe for disaster. In [...]
Marketing organizations big and small are talking about data-driven design and decision making — leveraging user research and analytics to optimize user experiences, increase marketing campaign effectiveness and improve products — with the ultimate goal of winning and retaining new customers. For start-ups with digital products or those reliant on digital marketing, where platforms are new and resources are limited, putting user research processes and analytics tracking in place can be overwhelming and get put on the back burner in order to meet launch deadlines. Unfortunately, this can have immediate consequences in the form of poor customer experiences, poor conversion rates, negative user feedback, and business requests for user behavior for which there is no data available. Understanding what makes up user research and where it belongs in the process can help start-up organizations build it into their culture from the start. Objectivity is the Goal First off, what is user [...]
“I wish I had that idea.” I often hear people say that when talking about the latest start-up that got acquired or went public. The reality is, in most start-up situations, many people already did. But only a few have what it takes to make it successful. What does it take to turn a great idea into a successful business? It takes dedication, sacrifice and relentless execution. It requires believing in yourself and your idea in the face of failure and critics, and convincing others to do so as well. It takes having the right relationships, partners and friends. It takes risk, and it takes a little luck. Above all, it takes the passion to live your idea every day. The next time you say, “I have this great idea”, ask yourself if you’re willing to go all in. If so, start looking for the right partners. PS - The [...]
A few years back I was admiring a friend’s new paddleboard — and the deal he got on it — and he sent me to www.theclymb.com. I went to the site and discovered The Clymb, a provider of outdoor goods, apparel and adventure travel and basically an awesome place to get cool gear at a discount. After registering to become a member, I began to receive their marketing emails. After a few months I still hadn’t found the board I was interested in, and this was typically the point where I would have unsubscribed from their email list. But for some reason I didn’t. I have since received over 1,000 emails from them, and have only ended up making a handful of purchases — tee shirts, hats, and most importantly an Arbor Fish Skateboard (at 50% off). So what is it that keeps me opening their emails and clicking through to [...]
That killer feature you’ve been working on is almost ready. That's right, almost. Almost ready can be more frustrating than not ready, because when something is not ready, at least you know where you stand. With almost ready, you're not sure if you're going to make the release schedule, or almost make it. At a start-up with a digital product, there are always going to be situations where a feature is scheduled to be released, but isn’t quite ready. Whether some of the functionality hasn’t been fully completed, or there are known bugs arising that will impact end users, the business and technology teams will be faced with a decision on whether to release the update or push the deadline. It is important to consider several factors when making this decision, and taking the following steps will provide a sound basis to make the right call. Articulate and communicate known issues [...]