Execute on product vision: My own harsh lessons
Ben Fellows, co-founder talks a little bit about his personal journey and some thoughts on product development in the software industry.
I’m back on Social Media after a break and the harsh reality is this: Your process, your idea, your documents, your management style, your corporate structure (or your non-existent startup hierarchy), your open offices or closed offices… it doesn’t mean jack for startups. It is pure execution!
I made the mistake several times in startups and biz on focusing on trying to scale, “look big” and doing things in a corporate way. It just doesn’t work! If you’re building a product, build the one thing that will fix a real customers problem and then get that customer, now build another feature, get more customers, demo, get ready to answer questions, rinse, repeat. you need to execute… This is not what I’m preaching! This is what I’m learning!
Learning is key in a startup. And FAST! you cannot spend 3 years going round in circles and failing slowly. You need to fail fast, pick up the pieces, move on, pivot, do whatever it takes to build momentum as if you not have momentum you will almost kill your startup.
On momentum: speed up, get people involved and passionate about what you’re passionate about, sell your vision. Sell your idea, talk to people. When developing anything noteworthy, especially a product of some sort you will get discouraged over and over again when nothing works and everything seems to be falling apart at the seams.
To combat discouragement, well for me personally it’s faith, it’s family and it’s been able to unplug. Unplugging is so important. 3 years ago I was in a really stressful situation which had been brewing for several years, it got to the point where I just needed to change a lot about my lifestyle.
I decided to take a stock check of my whole life. That included what I eat, what I drink, what and when I do certain things. I stepped down from a number of commitments in the tech/business industry and had the clarity to be able to say “Is the stuff I’m doing now going to matter in 5–10 years? I need to be doing stuff that will have long, lasting impact”. I emotionally checked out of the idea of ever having a fulltime job again. I said to myself I am never going to sell myself short again. And I don’t mean how much I get paid, what I mean is this: I need to not compromise on my core values.
The biggest thing I dealt with and deal with everyday is this thing called fear. Yes, I’m writing it in small words, because it has no power over me. I have power over it! The reason is, that I know my purpose is bigger than my fears and fear is nothing but an emotional response. With fear comes hesitation and indecisiveness. Indecision as you know is a killer in business. I didn’t realise up until about a few weeks ago that a lot of the mistakes I had made in the past were all to do with fear and indecision.
I was doing so much of my own product development with indecision. I consider myself a reasonably confident person and can communicate with pretty much anyone. But when it came to developing a product I lacked confidence. Confidence in my ability, confidence in my vision, confidence in the future. This caused a massive amount of hesitancy which in turn stopped me from living out the dream and purpose. In fact going around in circles with fear, uncertainty and doubt when you have a strong vision is probably worse than being unemployed and having no vision or direction.
Last, I need to say this and it’s not a personal thing — it’s the tech and software industry in general. It is an extremely complex industry — that is an understatement because it has so many layers. Not just in technology, but in the way we deliver technology, our cultures, our branding, our perceptions of technology and business working together… There is so much here and so my biggest passion is doing things with simplicity. In fact when I started Teem over 3 years ago, I was focussing on “Simplifying Public Cloud and AWS”. That is still my product vision.
With simplification comes freedom to innovate in so many areas. I’m not just talking about software now, I’m just talking about any product, the reason is that if you start simple you have a good foundation. If you start complex, you are going down the dangerous path of riskiness. In software, we call this over-engineering. I’ve learnt that saying “simplification” as a buzz word and executing on that vision are 2 completely different things altogether. Talking about it as an idea is great, but in fact to achieve simplification you need to pull ta lot of strings to make it happen.
On that note, I have been focussing for the last 4 years on taking a product to market that will simplify AWS (Amazon Web Services) for IT Operations teams and Managed Services companies. I’ve talked about a little bit of my journey above and if you’re in this “Cloud” space and you want a demo of the software I’m working on I’d love to hear from you, just drop me a line [email protected].