When companies reach the largest successes, everyone wants to get involved. Who were the people at the table calling the shorts when Groupon turned down the 6 billion sales offer by Google? How did they get to that amazing position with the fastest growing company?
The answer is really quite simple: They were already there! They were those that were there for the hard work that came before. There is no magic ladder to get to the very top of the iceberg, there is simply a lot of work that goes into making a company successful and appealing to the general public.
Think about it. As the company grows and becomes more successful, the amount of work grows exponentially. What you need at that point is people you can trust and are comfortable handing a large amount of responsibility to. Where do these people appear from? The inside! Why would you recruit new people that don’t know the intricacies of your operations, when you have the core team that has walked the path alongside the companies growth, both in its good and bad moments. You’ll trust people that you have seen make tough calls and reach goals even when they were faced with slim odds – something typical for any startup in the early stages. Naturally you will need new people to join the growing operations, but they will have to learn the way of doing things and the company culture and there is no way they can carry their weight before they do. There is simply no magic ladder to land the sweetest job in the coolest company.
The startups life cycle is full of surprises and a lot of learning, which typically means you will see some early success and a distinct need to adjust operations based on the feedback of the market. If the startup is in an emerging market, it will require even more of a balancing between the long term goals and the short term victories. That’s OK, that’s where culture and leadership comes to play! The mentality and vision you are building has to be clear, but also the expectations by the entire team. If your team is waiting for overnight success, they might be better off playing the lottery.
The message of the startups existence is important and it’s one that must unite the core team. There is an organic path to startups however, where the right people flock to bring the right company to its success – or quite naturally, the very opposite. Getting the model right and going through the forming of a scalable enterprise isn’t always fancy, and honestly it can get quite tedious for an entrepreneur that always wants to be hands on involved with the fun stuff. But building a successful company is not about the fun stuff (it’s really not), rather it’s about finding the right way to provide value to your customers, whoever they may be. However tedious, it’s the structures and best practices generated in the “boring phase” of the startups life cycle that will ultimately determine how well it scales or how quickly it breaks. It’s simply a question of multiples. Multiple the work load by X amount of times and find the organizations breaking point. With the right structure, you’ll focus efforts wisely and they will make a large impact.
Startups are often seen as something hot and sexy, and undoubtedly by comparison they often are. This perception is often though highly distracting from the perception of work that goes into a startup company and startups develop through many stages during their life cycle. Whenever a success case emerges through the lines, people gasp and wonder how they could pull it off. The truth is, success never happens over night and people forget to look at the incredible effort put into the company by those that were there early and made the company what it is today.
So whenever you find yourself sighing at the unbelievable success of a startup company, rather than thinking of the team as a row of Clark Kents, think of how you could have been there in the early days. Or better yet, how you can be part of building the next success case from early on!