3 Essential New Year’s Resolutions for Every Startup in 2015
As I celebrated New Years with my family and friends, as usual the topic of New Year’s resolutions came up. And although I am a big fan of self-improvement, I often find that New Year’s resolutions are delusions of grandeur instead of achievable goals. That being said I set a few for myself, including healthier, lighter breakfasts, spending less time on “screens”, and drinking more water (and coincidently stumbled uponmyvessel.com, and decided to give it a try – even though I can’t see drinking out of one cup for everything lasting that long).
Upon reflecting on our first year at Nudge, we also starting thinking about what New Year’s resolutions we should take on as a startup, that we really need to make stick in 2015. Here are the three we came up with based on the last 15 years of experience as entrepreneurs.
1. START A BUSINESS BOOK CLUB
After we started Nudge, Steve (a voracious reader) recommended we start reading some books that align with the business we are building. So about four months ago, up went a list on the whiteboard, people had to recommend a book and when enough people had read it, a meeting was scheduled to discuss the book, and any general thoughts around the ideas that are relevant to our business.
Here are the books we have read and reviewed so far:
- Hooked – Nir Eyal
- How Google Tests Software – James Whittaker, Jason Arbon, Jeff Carollo
- Social Physics – Alex Pentland
We immediately saw some benefits in 2014, which is why we are doubling down in 2015 and making it a resolution:
- Reading regularly creates a snowball effect, we have all started reading more in general since this started, both for business and personally – and that is just good stuff
- It creates healthy ongoing discussions within the team about key strategic areas of the business: testing, how to drive user engagement, etc., and ensures we are taking a step back every once in a while and are seeing the big picture
- Note: great to see Mark Zuckerberg is also seeing the value of book clubs in tech
2. SPEND REGULAR SCHEDULED TIME GOING DEEP INTO YOUR PRODUCT
I find often at product companies, people do not spend enough time getting deep into the product. Especially with the trend people like David Skok call “The Consumerization of the Enterprise” the emphasis on great user-engaging product is stronger than ever in enterprise software. So we are pushing forward into 2015 (started in late 2014) with a bi-weekly “DEEP-dive” session into various areas of the product . Some of these sessions will focus on experience design and user capabilities, but some will look at the technical backend, which has huge implications on what we can deliver to customers on the frontend. So far the sessions have been amazing, and it is very interesting to see even how in a small team, people already are doing things that other people don’t know anything about.
The format is simple, every two weeks a team member takes the rest of the company into their area of the product, they can show code, prototypes, PowerPoint, whatever works to demonstrate what they are actually building.
I know as CEO I am astounded at some of the things we have already built (like the fail-safe asynchronous queuing mechanism we have architected to deal with various work items at different levels of priority, scale and speed) – and we are just getting started.
3. ENGAGE SOMEONE IN YOUR NETWORK EVERY DAY
I just read an article on Forbes.com “Go Social or Go Home: How Leaders Can Win in 2015” by Meghan Biro, and really liked how she differentiated between leaders using social for broadcasting or selling (30% of Fortune 500 CEOs) vs. those that use it for engaging in authentic discussions and interactions (number drops to 3%).
From having spent the last year at Nudge focused on the latter, it is clear to me that although harder to do than just broadcasting – by engaging someone once per day, you can start building real relationships that will help you in the future. Some of the benefits I have already seen are:
- offers to attend key industry conferences for free
- referrals to talented people to hire
- connections to interested investors
- calls with industry analysts
- and the list goes on
Almost all of these benefits started small, with what we call a “Nudge“, just a reach out via email or social with valued added content that the contact would find interesting. And because real thought has been put into the content, the reach out is authentic, and the connection responds positively. That is all you can ask for at the start of any business relationship.
Well I hope at least one of these resolutions can apply to your business. I would love to hear some of your own – please post some in the comments.
Happy New Year!