It´s all about commitment
September 20, 2006
Yesterday around 19h@Germany I attended a very interesting skype-meeting with a friend of a friend who has been a software entrepreneur for 15 years now. I didn´t talk much, I kept listening to the man valuable insights on how to lead a global business. He was talking from his office in Israel where most of the software development takes place. They use open source tools to manage their process of building and maintaining systems around the world, including places like Munique, Singapour and Sidney (hmmm pretty cool). In all these places they keep a small sales office to provide support for current clients and increase their customer base. So lesson number one: sales matter… a lot.
(This sales stuff is obvious or at least should be, but it doesn´t seem to exist a consensus about that in many companies I visited.)
Then he carried on lecturing about how they build the company from the beginning without any venture capital for the first 5 years. They worked hard till they signed their first contract 18 months after they had started. Again this seems to go against most of the business articles in fancy magazines around the world. As far as I have been reading the accepted rule of thumb is: build some dirty prototype and go find a venture capitalist. The way these guys went was a bit different: first build a business with a real service and real customers paying real money then find a VC. This seemed to work very well in their case, they even went public when they felt the moment was right.
As for what they are selling, he explained that from the very beginning they picked a niche market where they could avoid the big global players. They decided not to go generics and stuck to their target audience. In doing so, he said, they were able to focus their few resources on a unique service and be as good as they could be. It strikes me that many people just find it easy to do whatever work they can get their hands on, forgetting that in the long run specific skills could guarantee a steady stream of customers whereas if people perceive you as not being good at anything, they will probably hire an expert not you. So here is this guy´s great lesson: commit to your business, don´t be tempted to serve everybody, find a nice point in the business space and stick to it. It´s all about commitment.
All this is not really new, but I think everytime someone with such a background talks, it must be worth taking notes. If only to confirm that what we young wannabe entrepreneurs with less experience think.