December 21, 2018

Look Back, Forward and Sideways at the Same Time

George Hadjiyanis

George Hadjiyanis
Founder - Principal /Launch Avenue

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When building a cloud business, we can learn from the Ancient Greeks

 

During a recent trip to Greece, I joined my family to visit the Parthenon.  This marvel was built during a 15 year period between 447-432 BC. While I was taking a picture of the Parthenon I was thinking about how the Ancient Greeks were paving new roads for future generations of leaders and builders to learn from them and adapt to their current society.  I wondered who they learned from- the early Romans?  The Egyptians?

As I work with cloud companies, in many situations we are forging new paths in worlds no one has been before.  In others, we are putting together a better mousetrap to capture a fast-growing market.

Whether you are thinking about positioning, product features, pricing, sales strategy, or partnerships -- there are always new decisions which seem like forks in the road for your business.  A couple key learnings to consider as you navigate these new paths.

1) Listen to your customers (mostly) - You want to build a solution that is meeting a challenge that will save them money or time or make a process more efficient or accurate.  So listen to them about what causes them pain and challenges.  However, sometimes customers cannot envision what the solution might be. Look at adjacent or similar business models to see how they are solving related problems.

2)  Model successful cloud businesses - There are many mentor programs available to learn from other successful software, SaaS and cloud leaders.  They have already tackled the pricing issue or partner strategy you are thinking about so leverage them.  There are many amazing people willing to lend some guidance to up and coming leaders. One excellent organization is the Minnesota Emerging Software Association (MESA) of which I am a mentor. 

3) Test new ideas - and fail fast if needed - You have heard this before, but you need to move fast in the cloud business as Amazon, Google and others have made entry to markets easier each month.  Don't perfect things - but get it to 80% and give it a shot and adjust or kill it once you see how it works.  Companies that work with early-stage cloud vendors understand that you will evolve quickly and try things that sometimes will not be perfect.  As long as they see long-term progress in the right direction, they will be happy. 

Learn from the past, learn from your peers and customers, and push forward.  Imagine yourself in 500BC with no technology or major equipment and having to build the Parthenon, and that will make your current challenge seem achievable. Stay calm and build on!

Comments? You can contact me directly via my ExecRanks profile.

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