I wanted to share this article by Rebekah Campbell, founder of Posse, a social recommendation startup, in which Campbell shares five key lessons from her first year in business. There’s no specific legal content, so it should be more interesting than something about tax law. While Campbell is writing specifically about startups in the tech/social media space, I think the takeaways are equally appropriate for new businesses in other industries and areas.
Work fast. Campbell recommends focusing on speed, and putting perfection on a back burner. This is particularly important for tech companies, and is a constant source of frustration for me. I completely understand the need for speed, but I’m also very impatient with imperfect, buggy products. This isn’t an issue plaguing just startups. Large, established companies like Microsoft and Apple still put buggy products on the market, and expect consumers to be patient while they fix the bugs. Of course, the problem of buggy products isn’t exclusive to tech, large or small, as the latest General Motors’ recall issues have shown.
Focus on things that matter. While there may be a list of 50 items needing work, with limited time and resources a startup company has to focus on the handful of issues that will produce the greatest return on resources invested. For Campbell’s company, that means devoting attention to producing an Android version of what has been an iOS-only app. Considering that Android is approaching an 80% share of smartphones and tablets, that’s a high priority item.
Look for breakout opportunities. While focusing on the existing product is imperative, a startup company (any company, actually) cannot neglect searching for new opportunities. In many cases, the new opportunity may be dramatically more popular and profitable than the existing product. Campbell takes her team to a beach house every 3 months to brainstorm new opportunities and analyze the success of other companies. It seems to me that the change of location is just as important as the regular brainstorm sessions, in terms of fostering a fresh perspective. Hard to argue with a beach house!
Test and Measure Everything. Campbell recommends devoting resources to testing and analyzing everything. A startup company can save time and money by identifying non-productive features at an early stage.
Meditate, Refresh, Relax. Campbell’s fifth recommendation is to make time to meditate, refresh, relax, do yoga, whatever is necessary to clear the mind. Starting and running a new business is a time-consuming, high-stress endeavor. The startup team can easily work days, evenings, weekends, holidays. Burnout is a risk, as are health issues. People perform better and think more clearly when they are rested. Ask yourself, if you have to go to the emergency room, would you prefer a well-rested doctor or a doctor that has been on shift for the past 18 hours?
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