Found this great graphic today, it shows how Amazon always operates in day 1. Might sound cliched, but pretty sure all of us are failing on one or more of these points (and please don’t think this doesn’t apply to smaller companies)
1. They all tell you to build what customers want, but they don’t tell you to be obsessed with the customers. Just because you delivered the product doesn’t mean you have the customer forever. Most of us don’t get obsessed with customer needs, we are usually satisfied in doing an ok job and then moving on to the next customer (after all we all want a ton of customers)
2. A bias towards action over planning: This is an easy one. We should execute and see what the customers think instead of making plans about how we might solve the customers problem. Heard of prototypes? Prototypes are best way to remove the guesswork and planning out of the situation most of the times in startups (I am not suggesting that you don’t have a plan, all I am saying is let’s replace plan with execution wherever possible and wherever it’s important to do so)
3. A willingness to tolerate failure and imperfection in pursuit of innovative ideas: Well if you fail then you are done right? Not really, it means you fix what you failed at, learn and go again. Innovation usually means you want to do things in a better way, and sometimes doing it better means finding out the wrong ways of doing it. That’s all. If you can’t think of failure as stepping stones for success, then startups and companies are not your thing my friend.
4. A desire to explore new ideas and technologies, even without obvious business models in place. Google is a good example of this, they try out all kinds of things, they try out technologies that might even kill their own business model (for e.g. Google ALLO). I have been developing an AI startup and have worked on 3 different usecases to try to solve few customers problems. Even though I knew that NLP is hard, facebook just launched bots platform, etc etc. I can easily tell you even after failing 3 times, I am still going, because I have learnt so much from developing an MVP 3 times. We all need to do it.
5. A Patience to wait for outcomes over the long term: This is a tough one. We all have bills to pay, we all have things to do. How do we keep moving forward in the face of failures and look at the big picture or the long term? It took me sometime to realize that, but at appmakery, we all now realize this, that’s why we have last for 6 years despite so many adversities. We all now see the big picture, we don’t build apps anymore, we build relationships with people. We want to be a company who know people and happen to solve people’s problems. Some of those people will be our friends, be part of our life experiences, our dreams and goals. If we can attach our business in such a way that we think of business as an organism rather than a business, it might be easier to look at the long term.
6. A culture of empowered employees who can disagree but yet commit to decisions. This is probably the toughest one. You sometimes do all the things right, but then, you are so near, yet so far if you get this one wrong. There is no simple answer to how to make this work. Especially in the startup stages, things either work between people, or they don’t. You can disagree everyday, fight everyday, but if all that doesn’t lead to you getting better as a team and executing the right time, faster and better, then it’s over.