Last week, we talked to four Indy founders about the biggest lessons they learned from their business from 2013. Today, we want to highlight two very well-respected and well-established founders who wanted to get in on the conversation.
Andy Medley, PERQ Marketing
Above all, create true value.
The game of true value creation is my biggest lesson. Having been at this for 12 years now, I thought revenue generation was the same as value generation. It is one thing to grow revenue, but it is another to create it in a way where the long term value of the company grows with each step you take.
For PERQ, this is done by understanding the opportunity the market presents and aligning that opportunity with your company’s current assets through a clear vision and compelling strategy. Easy to take at face value, but entirely different to implement. Execution is obviously what makes this all happen, and we do that through an engaged culture while treating business as a game. Our stakeholders (customers, vendor partners, employees, shareholders, and Scott and I as owners) truly win when meaningful value creation is realized. That is where real opportunity is created and it’s the game we are playing now.
Michael Cloran, DeveloperTown
You have to aim past it.
2013 was a year we relearned a pretty basic lesson lesson.
Years ago at a well-funded, 100+ person startup we had a fridge filled with software’s raw ingredient, caffeinated drinks. There was a pile of drinks next to the fridge and a sign that said “Take one, replace one!” Our startup spirit meant 80-90% good startup citizens and yet the fridge was frustratingly empty some mornings. Warm drinks do not make good software! Changing the sign to read “Take one, replace two!” changed the equation and luckily the good corporate citizens were smart enough not to cram in the second one when the fridge was already full. The now full fridge of drinks chilled over night each night, great software was built, and there was great rejoicing.
At DeveloperTown in 2013, we learned that, in a subtle way, we were building the business around expecting too perfect execution on every step in our key processes. It left us without enough slack to make up for unexpected twists and turns on individual tasks caused by external, or yes, even the occasional internal challenge. We reconfigured the business to define just two core products with clearly defined end outcomes and a bit of slack to get there. Suddenly we found ourselves with much happier clients, happier employees and the means to go above and beyond when we can. While we still have ridiculously high expectations for ourselves, the quality of our end product, and the value delivered on a price/performance basis, this newfound “anti-fragility” has given us a path to a much more sustainable and enjoyable business!
What are your key takeaways from Michael and Andy’s stories? What were your biggest lessons from 2013?