I’ve been working on the Internet for what feels like a long time now – 6 years. In that time, I have worked inhouse for 4 different brands and consulted with more than I can reliably count. That number is probably in the 35-50ish range.
Over time, as I have gained more business experience and expanded my skillset outside of just SEO or even digital marketing, and am now running HireGun both as a consultant and a software solopreneur, I have increasingly become convinced of one thing:
Those who win are those who do
Many companies will say that they get things done. But the truth comes out when the rubber hits the road. When I worked at Distilled, we always prided ourselves on working with our clients to help them get things done. After all, if we were going to be successful as consultants, our clients had to see a return on their investment. If they moved slow, then it would take a long time for them to see that positive return and at that point it was up to the consultant to keep the client happy (and still a client!).
Here are some of the traits I have seen of successful companies and individuals.
Prioritize Action Over Planning
Some companies like to plan work way in advance. Others move fast and break things, working in quicker cycles. Guess who, 9 times out of 10, ends up being the acquirer and who ends up being the acquired? In my experience, the company that moves fast and takes risks is usually the acquirer. The acquired has more processes and takes longer to get work to market.
Entrepreneurs that I have seen be successful are the ones who prioritize testing things as quickly as possible and launch new products all the time. Look at people like Brian Clark, who is a nine time entrepreneur who has worked across industries and has become a master at building audiences online and then monetizing them, and now he does the Unemployable podcast to drive even more business. Look at people like Paul Jarvis, who now is an entpreneur coach but has also launched many of his own businesses. In my own business, I pride myself with getting back to people as quickly as possible. If I have a great meeting with someone, they have a proposal in their hands by end of the day. It works, and the ones who get back to me quickly are the ones I want to work with.
They’re successful. You never see the people saying “I have this idea but…” coming out on top.
Measure Fast, Iterate Fast
The successful people and companies are the ones who make decisions with a combination of business intuition (aka experience) and data.
Andy Johns is one of the most well known growth marketers in the world today. He’s been a part of or led growth at Facebook, Twitter, Quora, and Wealthfront. This is his growth framework (source) for moving and iterating fast:
- Measure and track each metric in the equation for your product and calculate your user growth.
- Choose the period of time you want to measure these metrics over – a day, a week a month.
- Religiously measure and LEARN from these user acquisition metrics.
- Watch how the metrics trend over time.
- Use the trends to inform your decision making on growth and product strategy.
Businesses that I see succeeding do the same thing. Keep a close eye on the metrics weekly if not daily, change your tactics according to them, and let everyone in the business have visibility and input.
Seize New Opportunities
Successful people are those who seize new opportunities when they see them by acting quickly. Once you know how to scale one business, you know how to scale any business. Some of the tactics may change, but the skills you acquire of hiring and retaining client, solving problems quickly, focusing on the right solutions, and cornering a market translate across verticals. Even a successful B2C professional can do well in B2B with these skills.
When I launched HireGun, I did so because I saw an opportunity. I made the first deal (as I talked about here) and only then bought the domain name and hosting. Move fast to take advantage of opportunities you see.
Small Teams Move Fast
Amazon has a two pizza meeting rule. If everyone in a meeting couldn’t be fed with only two pizzas, then the meeting is too big. I’ve sat in too many meetings with 40+ people reviewing strategies or planning campaigns. Those meetings always take too long and get nothing done, except next steps on continuing to iterate on the strategy. Meetings to prepare for meetings are the death of iteration and being successful. When I see them happening, I know then that something has broken down internally and those lower down, especially middle managers who are usually powerless to make any real decisions anyway, have not been empowered to make decisions.
If this is your company, start trimming those meetings. Trim down the size of teams and focus teams on a project at a time, then disband them. If you are able to get a lot done in a hackweek but usual product iteration takes forever, something is broken in your every day.
What are some other aspects of successful entrepreneurs or companies that you have seen, worked in, or worked with?