A note on keeping things real
Over the years, I've had the good fortune of
talking to and doing business with many entrepreneurs and CEOs from a variety
of industries. Some are first-time founders of small startups, while others are
amazingly experienced serial entrepreneurs. Many of them are extremely
successful in what they do.
So naturally, while listening to them talk about their businesses, I've always tried to spot any fundamental takeaways –the small drops of universal business advice distilled from those hundreds of conversations.
And it seems to me that a lot of the most profound business truths seem to point to a direction that I would call, "keeping it real.”
All business models are simple.
At its core, every single business model of every single company boils down to
a few simple principles and mechanics. Most early-stage tech startups, or small
businesses from any other industry, have a very straightforward plan of how
they will generate profit.
It is the companies we build to execute those business models that tend to make things complicated.
Handling large volumes of business transactions, automating processes, measuring conversions, building a talented team –these are things that require experience and knowledge to pull off. And still, however important all those instruments are, none of them are part of the simple business model at the heart of a company that provides value to customers and generates profit.
Some of the best managers we have done business with are always incredibly aware of their core business model, not allowing themselves to get lost in the complexities of building a company around it.
Your customers seldom buy exactly what you're selling.
The best piece of sales advice we have ever been given is really a bit more
than just sales advice. It's a philosophical idea that concerns many things
from product design to management and customer support.
It's the idea that everyone perceives the value that you think your product is generating in a slightly different way. This is because the needs of every company and the lives of people are unique. And so are their definitions of the value your products bring about.
It pays to try to understand how your customers look at the world in general as it brings you closer to understanding the reasons they are working with you and not with your competitors.
There is a customer behind every transaction.
The final takeaway is something we make a point of always remembering at
Once you are lucky enough to have built a company that handles a high volume of business transactions, it's very intuitive to start thinking about your business in statistical terms. Amidst all the KPIs and the graphs on the wall monitors, it's easy to find yourself concentrating on the volumes and forgetting about the real-life situation behind each transaction.
For us, it means remembering that behind every message we deliver there is someone who gets a reminder from their doctor, a note from their bank, or a confirmation of a delivered package.
What the industry often refers to as "traffic," we simply call "messages.” And this keeps things real. :)