Software and Service Part I
Entrepreneurship is “the pursuit of opportunity beyond the resources you currently control”Howard Stevenson, Professor Emeritus Harvard University
For the last four years my partner Chris and I, and the team at ScanPower have been building great tools and resources for online sellers. Our core proposition is a model for anyone to build their business with knowledge, technology, and community.
It's simple really. We are part of a movement of thousands of people taking control of their future in an uncertain economic climate.
These essays are my attempt to capture the movement and our part in it. We are a technology company, but we are so much more than that. We are educators, coaches, and leaders.
Nowadays every company must leverage technology to compete. We certainly do that with mobile and web apps that bring important data to our customers exactly when and where they need it. It's not enough to streamline a single process. You have to remove barriers to getting work done by integrating with multiple sources of data and services and make it seamless from start to finish, whether the customer begins the process on a tablet, their laptop, or a mobile device.
Our story can't easily be replicated, but the lessons we have learned building ScanPower are transferrable to anyone leveraging web and mobile technology.
Before you set off to build the best soft serv (SAAS) company on the planet, come to grips with these 5 Inescapable Truths.
Without a doubt a good idea, finding product/market fit, and building a brilliant team are crucial to your success. Much has been written about the key ingredients of startups and many case studies exist that cover these aspects of launching a business.
I would like to focus more on the nuts and bolts of building and managing the systems of your new baby.
Understanding the 5 truths below may help you execute on your idea and stay sane long enough to see it prosper:
Speed Matters. Everything is live. Everything is important. Everything is a production issue. It’s critical you solve issues, respond to customers, and innovate quickly. Your business depends on it. Your reputation, which is global and transparent, depends on it.
Speed matters because others are working on the same problem with more resources than you. And they are younger, smarter, and better looking!
Automate. See 1. If you don’t automate, you won’t have time to innovate.
Monitor. See 2. Automate when you can, but keep your finger on the pulse of the business.
You may have a brilliant dashboard, but sometimes its more important to watch logs on an instance or see the problem first-hand while screen-sharing with a customer.
Build Systems. Everywhere. Then Monitor and Automate.
If you fail to fully grasp the importance of this requirement, and you have a business model allowing efficient customer acquisition, you will die a painful death at the hands of too many processes for you and your staff to manage.
Communicate. Your organization (top to bottom) has to be on the same page. Most companies today are distributed. We aren’t sitting in the same room nor are we necessarily in the same time zone.
At ScanPower we wrestle with this every day. No process or software on its own will solve the problem of communication.
Practice sharing important stuff every day - not just with your team but with customers. Eliminate back channels and be more transparent than you are comfortable with.