Start-Ups, Keep Your Eye On The Ball
August 27, 2014 8:31am
Puzzle Partner CEO Shares Insights To Help Technology Start-Ups Hit It Out of the Park
By Alan E. Young, CEO and Co-Founder of Puzzle Partner
Toronto, CA August 27, 2014 Last night I was out in the backyard throwing the ball with my 10-year-old son, and while he has the arm of Greg Maddux, he has some difficulty catching the ball. I instructed him to watch the ball all the way from my throw into his glove. I kept on telling him to keep his eye on the ball. Once he understood this concept; the balls stopped falling onto the ground and remained in his glove. Obviously, once he was catching fastballs, pop flys and almost anything I threw at him, he was thrilled.
I tell you this story as the same can be true in business, and most importantly in the technology start-up world. Companies fail when they lose focus.
Usually start-up companies come out of the gate infused with enthusiasm because their new solution is going to reinvent some facet of the way people do things, or interact either online or operationally. This is exactly how start-ups should be during the infancy of their businesses. At this moment during the evolution of their company, they are deadly focused. The have worked tirelessly on their product or solution based upon a market requirement, and they have a team that is pointed in the same direction. If they maintain this focus, they are on track to develop a successful product or company.
However, things can go wrong, and there are many factors that make a start-up lose its focus. Sometimes it is a lack of cash flow, sometimes it taking on a client that man-handles the development team to deliver things that are out of scope of the company's primary mission. Other times it is the leadership group working on something that the market may not necessarily perceive as valuable. But one thing is true, when an organization loses focus; it loses direction, and this can be catastrophic for a small start-up or new product trying to make it in today's extremely fast paced technology world.
I have personally worked in some start-ups where this has occurred. We called it the "bright shiny object syndrome." Most of the time, we lost focus because a client drove us in a direction that wasn't in our best interest, but it is hard to say no to someone who is paying the bills.
The leadership team of a start-up company is essential to making sure that the company stays on track. The organization always needs to be aware of what is in the horizon related to the next big tech or business trend - however the team needs to have the intestinal fortitude to maintain the company's focus.
So how do you stay on track? Keep an eye on cash flow, try not to take on initial clients that are too big for the team to handle, and may bully you into doing things that are not on your development roadmap, and try not to second guess the market. Be well informed on trends and what is happening. The best way to do this is to initiate a Customer Advisory Board that acts as a review mechanism related to your development efforts and roadmap. You would be surprised how many customers feel grateful that they are part of the development process, and in the long run, this makes them more invested in your company.
Finally, this is not to say that pivots during the lifecycle of a new company can at times be beneficial. However, they need to be made with the full understanding of their impact on the organization. They need to be strategic and thus make sense.
Just remember, keep your eye on the ball.
Tags: puzzle partner,
Contact: Alan Young
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