I hope you’re finding this series of posts interesting – I’ve had great feedback, so I’ll continue with a few more posts.
Today, I’ve combined two areas, Competitive Threats and Team. I hope you find them useful.
Ignore the competition
If you need to constantly look at what your competition is doing in order to guide your next step, you are not an entrepreneur, you’re an opportunist. You need to set your own agenda and execute against it. If you define yourself by how you differ from the competition, you’re probably in trouble.
Russell adds: At a recent conference, it seems that every company in the mobile ad space, defined itself in relation to AdMob. Very flattering and all, but it probably doesn’t do them any favours. I once met a girl socially who introduced herself as “[vaguely well known industry figure]’s girlfriend” to which you want to shake her physically and say “Have some pride, Lady!”.
(insert big company here) probably won’t kill you
Big companies are almost always far to slow to actually kill a small competitor. If you do end up failing it will probably be because you simply weren’t needed, not because a bigger competitor actually out-executed you.
Russell adds: Yes, this is a little counter-intuitive too, but some companies have consistently had great success specifically by taking on industry giants and doing it better. Richard Branson’s Virgin Group spring to mind.
Team and People
Find a mentor (or know when one finds you)
You can’t do it alone and you don’t know everything. If you can find someone who is not afraid to tell you you’re an idiot, and who really brightens your day when they give you some positive feedback, you should make sure to keep them nearby.
Where you are matters
Your environment will have a huge influence on how your career ends up going. Put yourself in the BEST place to do what you do. If you are an actor, go to Hollywood; if you are a chef, go to Paris.
Russell adds: and if you’re in technology, you need to be in The Valley. No question that everything is easier there than say, Europe. Everything from engineering talent to funding.
Nothing matters more than the team
The most important factor in your efforts is the team you are with. If you find that you do not like/respect the vast majority of the people around you, you should figure out how to get on to what’s next.
Russell adds: Well, I disagree slightly on this one, as it happens. I think timing matters more than anything, with team a close second. You can actually have a brilliant success with great timing and mediocre team, but not a brilliant team and lousy timing. Better to have both, obviously.
Hire people you feel like you’ve known your whole life
Pretty self explanatory.
Avoid arrogance at all costs
Never, never, never, hire people with an attitude. You will regret it.
Russell adds: Oh yes! If someone comes across as doing you a favour by deigning to consider working with you, politely extract yourself immediately as you’re wasting your time. Big company employees are mainly guilty of this, but not exclusively.
I’d also say extend this slightly into “listen to your gut”. If my head has ever persuaded my heart about a prospective employee, it’s my head which gets proved wrong in the end.
The ‘law of 7s’ is kind of true
Some people say organizations tend to get more complex in multiples of 7. So what it’s like from 1-7 people is very different than what it’s like from 8-21, and so forth. Those people are pretty much right.
No one matters as much as you think they do
As soon as you have more than a few people then chances are your business will be fine without any particular individual. No one should be indispensable and they should earn their spot on the island every day.
You work for them as much as they work for you
When you bring someone onto your team they are implicitly putting a lot of trust in you. You have expectations and so do they. Your job is to deliver whatever success and satisfaction they are expecting.
Don’t waste people’s time (from a career perspective)
Make sure that whenever the ride is over everyone has benefited from the time they spent with you. Try your best to make sure that no one comes off as the same person that got on.
Think about measuring your success by how many people will be better off for having worked with you.
Don’t carry any passengers
Working on an exciting new venture is an honor and a privilege. Don’t waste it on anyone who is just along for the ride.
So, that’s it for today. We have one final post in this series, where we’ll think about Communication.