When I look around for tech business related nuggets for myself, some of which I share in this series, my primary go to topics are related to software, SaaS and startups. Then super high level ideas that need pondering about or keeping them in the periphery of your vision lest they become a Tsunami behind your back. Time to time I come across a story which does not fit my normal scheme of things but are so compelling that I feel like sharing it with friends. One such came out just a few days back in Fast Company written by Joel Johnson. It is the story of how the USB port came about.
The sales community on Linkedin is vibrant and inspiring. I enjoy the discourse and try to share thoughts from time to time. The fact that the focus is shifting from the supply side (read Sellers ) to the demand side (read Buyers) is evident. However, to ask any leader of any organisation “Tell me, do you personally prefer – to buy at your own pace or to be sold to?” what answer do you think I got every time? Imagine, I asked you this question right now, what would your answer be?
It is Wednesday. My date with finding life hacks that help us be more productive, be a better version of yourself. I do not think that anyone needs to really read this stuff if you are content with what and where you are. But the compelling reason to examine that is this: The time each one of us have is limited and doing useful productive work that contributes to better society and world will make you a happier and content human being. While looking around for clues I found Darius Foroux. He made it his life mission to focus on 4 areas – Productivity,Habits, Decision Making and Personal Finance.
The latest episode of Masters of Scale features Ben Chestnut, Co Founder and CEO of Mailchimp, and champion of simplicity and bootstrapping. When Ried asks him about when he started figuring out Dashboards and analytics stuff (Mailchimp ARR $600mn) Ben says – “Gosh, that’s a good question. I think to this day I still keep it very simple, myself. I obviously have a CFO who cares about it. He has big fancy reports, but I really say, you know, “How much money did we make this month? Is it growing? At what rate?” That’s all I really care about. I keep it pretty simple.” Strangely enough I also happened to read this article “Don’t Build a Startup, Build a Movement” by Ali Mese and guess who was the centerpiece of his narrative – Ben and Mailchimp. Ali makes a passionate plea for differentiated approach to your brand storytelling. Ali writes – “Over the last years, MailChimp has built an iconic brand with its design-centric approach and unconventional marketing campaigns.” that took Mailchimp, which was essentially a side hustle for about 5 years for Ben and his co-founder, to 15 million customers. So what did MailChimp do? They decided early to “Focus on building a brand customers love.”
Hugh Durkin, Director of Platform Partner Success Hubspot, has been following mobile habits and writing on shifts that he sees in the space. Way back in 2016, when he was a Senior Product Manager at Intercom, he wrote about how browsers are the future of mobile. Data in support – “ most US smartphone owners ( read 65%+) download zero apps in a typical month,” according to Comscore’s then report on mobile apps ( how many new apps did you download last quarter?) and it goes on to show that the top App takes 50% of use time while the top 3 are responsible for 80% of the mobile usage.
Eric Gervet and Steffen Oder authored a report for A T Kearney on The Future of B2B sales. “In a survey of 1600 top sales managers and professionals in a diverse cross section of industries from consumer goods and retail to energy and utilities—including businesses that sell in turn to individual consumers and small businesses” in search of support for their hypothesis that B2B sales has fundamentally changed. The write “…almost all will see a massive shift in bargaining power toward their customers, driven by Internet-fueled market transparency and globalization. all sorts of disintermediation and reintermediation have redefined products and services and reconfigured entire value chains—routinely leading to new entrants and substitutes.”
All of us, founders and flounderers look for ways to maximize our output. Then we focus on the quality. We discuss distractions that are coming at us with alarming speed and volume and try to make sense of work life balance. There is something innately good about all these discussions. If you think about it, it is but the evolutionary process at work. I often have discussions about how so many of us are buried in our smartphones. We talk about lovers in restaurants having a meal in silence while looking at thier respective phones. The calls (including cold ones from folks trying to sell you something), messages, meme’s, forwards, mails, more calls….you get the drift. But as civilization we have had only 15 years to deal with this rapidity and change. Give us some time and we will figure it out. How do you get work done and still have time to be with your daughter when she gives her first recital? Or ballet performance? Or with your wife when she is feeling low. Or happy. Or worried? How does this impact teams and their productivity?
Jason Lemkin, thought leader and one of the most prolific bloggers in the SaaS space built SaaStr to what it is practically with singular effort, by bringing compelling content to his readers. He authors a series in SaaStr titled ‘5 interesting things….’
I was re-reading Paul Grahams seminal post for Startup Founders (I have this framed and put up on a wall right outside my office) Do things that Don’t Scale.
Initial traction is hard. Recruitingusers one by one and setting a modest 10% per week growth rate should do the trick. Starting with 100 users focus on adding 10 more. And then 10% more next week. By the end of the 52nd week you will have 14000 users and in two years? 2 million.