Read a selection of articles in most business publications and you will, undoubtedly, find more than a handful that explicitly or implicitly refer to entrepreneurs as stalwart heroes in some form or fashion. While there may be some level of “courage” (comfort with risk, ability to thrive in nebulous situations, ability to envision a future state that others can not, etc.) the overwhelming amount of content of this nature continues to reinforce a myth about entrepreneurs as mighty warriors who don’t blink in the face of danger. Adding further to this cycle, especially here in America, is our national culture of showcasing success and of loving a good underdog story.
Unfortunately, showcasing successful underdog entrepreneurs who have “made it” doesn’t really tell the full story. For every success there are multiple examples of failure- each one leaving indelible scars on those involved. For some, these failures may serve as the inspiration to try and try again while, for others, it may result in wounds that become insurmountable. Furthermore, even the entrepreneurs who do make it, in most cases, do so at the expense of many things in their lives, each adding stresses to them as individuals that are difficult to measure. Read More…
The biggest brands in the world become what they are with the help of one elusive ingredient: customer loyalty. In a world over-saturated with scattershot marketing messages, successful companies take the time to truly get to know their customers — their motivations, fears, ideas, and priorities — and tackle customer service with relentless dedication.
If you’re an entrepreneur, this is good news and bad news.
The bad news? You’re likely competing against established brands that have worked for years — or even decades — to build loyalty among customers.
The good news? You can make customer-service commitment part of your company’s mission early on and be hyper-focused on giving a smaller number of customers the best experiences possible.
If you commit to offering better customer service than your competitors, then your customers are far more likely to tolerate growing pains and stick with you as you scale. This is why developing a customer service culture should be a table stakes commitment for all startups.
I stopped dieting for weight loss purposes 15 years ago. My brain finally understood what I knew all along; diets deplete willpower, make you fat, unhealthy and unhappy.
Instead of dieting, I’ve been doing the obvious — eat what I want, when I want it, in a balanced way. The results are as expected; better health and consistent weight for over a decade. No restrictions, no stress.
There are a lot of things in life that work the same way. Intellectually we understand a wide range of facts and theories; however, it can take decades before we can truly put that knowledge into practice. Why is that? I think there are many reasons. But one powerful reason is our ability to rationalize everything. We convince ourselves that it can’t be that easy.
But, it is.
Business practices are the same; there is a ton of common sense and wisdom around us but we choose to make things complicated, potentially out of fear. After all, it can’t be that easy, right?
Building a business is like raising a child. We see them grow up over the years, go through hard times and good, learn from each success and failure, and eventually blossom into something more wonderful than we ever could have imagined.
One of the more challenging stages of the process is a business’ adolescence. It’s no longer a scrappy startup but not yet a full-grown business with established and consistent processes.
We’ve all read the stories about startups making waves in their industry, and how they’re doing it from a once-destitute warehouse on the south side of town. We’re prone to conclude that these companies are sustaining high performance because they’ve broken down the (cubicle) walls that bind our ability to collaborate, innovate, and achieve our full potential.
Unfortunately, misconceptions about high performing culture develop from these stories, and many well-intentioned business leaders have tried to emulate these startups in their quest to improve their culture and performance.
I know there are many entrepreneurs out there who aren’t funded to the gills. They’re no strangers to making every penny count toward realizing their vision. And if you can relate to this in any way, you’re probably like me— forever working to find ways to maximize efficiency and to deliver more value to your customers.
Whether eliminating waste in your processes or improving the user experience of your website, the entrepreneur is constantly striving to maximize value. Here’s a little secret: The tech world is making some really interesting strides in this effort, and they call it DevOps.
Today, digital innovation influences every aspect of our workplace, and more recently, many tech startups are setting their sights on the advancement of human resources.
“Ask any industry veteran and they’ll tell you that human resources is notoriously slow,” says Vip Sandhir, CEO of one such company, Highground. “It’s almost synonymous with red tape, approvals, and the like. It’s quite the juxtaposition with the tech world, that moves at a near mach-5 speed.
“The relationship with HR and tech is important because they’re helping each other reach a middle-ground of proactivity and reactivity,” he continues. “HR tech start-ups are the ones pushing us all forward to help solve organizational challenges, better engage their employees, and improve business outcomes.”
You have a million things to consider when investing your startup’s money. Developing your product is just the beginning. Then come the marketing, sales, and accounting considerations. But throughout all this, you can’t overlook the single most important financial consideration: your team. Your employees, after all, become part of what you sell.
Lieutenant Colonel Matt Butler spends most of his time serving as mission crew commander of an Air Force Joint STARS E8C air-to-ground radar aircraft. A job that has given him the opportunity to live all over the United States and abroad, including ten deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. But it’s not all work and no play for Colonel Butler.
Matt is also the creator of what the Wall Street Journal referred to as one of the “best new lawn games you’ve never heard of.” Growing up in Minnesota meant summers chock full of outdoor activities at the cabin Matt’s family stayed in during the warmer months. And what’s a little outdoor family time without a barbecue fired up and lawn games?
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that it’s going to take more than a beer keg and an in-house masseuse to drive sustained performance of your startup.
Beyond the perks and window dressing that business leaders adorn their exposed-brick workspaces with, what can be done to solidify certain ways of working that guide behavior to tangibly drive the results you’re looking for?