Tagged: startups

The Daily Uncertainty of Startups

not my sister
not my sister

I think there’s a fallacy that larger companies know exactly what they’re going to do, when they’ll do it, and exactly how.  Perhaps by the time the orders come down the line to the lower-totem-pole people, it feels that way.  The reality is that we’re all guessing, but hopefully with some magical blend of intuition, experience, and data to make it a smart guess.

Having worked at small companies for the last four years, you live and breathe uncertainty every single day.  In fact, you must embrace it in order to enjoy yourself. The idea that you’ll have a crystal clear plan to grow your business is rubbish.

If you know precisely, god bless you.  You are the exception, and you remind me of the college student who knows exactly what they’ll major in, then they go do it, and then they love it.

My sister, the female Indiana Jones, is like this.  She studied art conservation in college, heads up the Egyptian museum at U. of Michigan, and is on her way to Egypt for a two week dig.

The rest of us? Make your best (informed) guess, do it, then move on.  This blog post by Jason Cohen lays it out nicely.

PMS at Startups & Big Companies

Burgundy-bigdealWhen I started my enterprise sales career in 2005, I had it all figured out.  I closed a couple of deals, made some cash, and pretty much knew how to run a company.  Except, nothing could be further from the truth, despite that being my attitude.

After 8 years of slinging software, I quit my job to run a startup, where I began to dabble in product, and became more deeply involved in marketing. Hmm…these things appear related.

As I approach two years at StepLeader, I am deep in the trenches of the product, marketing, and sales trio, henceforth known as PMS.  One of my biggest lessons learned? These three elements intersect on a daily basis.

  • Without a product worth talking about, your marketing is meaningless.
  • Without marketing that provides value to customers (as opposed to asking for attention), your sales will be 10x harder.
  • Without product and market knowledge, your sales team will be borderline inept.

If you’re a sales person at large company, with little contact with the marketing or product teams, you are doing yourself a huge disservice.  Join their daily standups, ask for advice, ask for time with their leadership, and make it routine. You’ll close more deals.

If you’re a marketer and not participating in product discussions or listening in on sales calls, are you high? Are you making things up?

If you’re a product manager and not speaking with your customers, both inside and outside your office, you’ll build terrible products. You won’t be able to arm your marketing and sales teams with key messaging.

At a startup, it’s easier to have true PMS integration. Small teams make communication easier, in theory.

For everyone else working in a silo, break the silos down, not because you’re on a mission from God, but because you’ll enjoy your work more, and be better at it.