Growing up is an experience. No matter how much you teach young kids or try to keep them away from harm, they won’t listen till they experience it – and rightly so. Experience brings with itself, the knowledge and wherewithal to face tough situations. As a young boy, I always wanted to grow up and be like some of my older cousins who seemed to have everything they needed. They seemed to be control of their life. But as you grow up, you tend to realize that the world is not perfect and that you can’t make the rules always. In some cases, the enthusiasm starts to fade away and lethargy takes over.
Startups are also like these young energetic kids looking forward to growing up and standing tall in this corporate world. At this stage they seem to think they know how to make it big. However, as they grow, some of these young companies are bound to lose this passion, energy and rigor. The proof lies out there with more than 80% of the starts-ups not able to make it beyond 2-3 years.
The question then is – how do these young aspirants really sustain in the longer run. What will keep them going through changing socio-political and economic conditions? Well, here are some of the fundamental principles (in no particular order) that I believe can help sustain organizations longer
Long term value creation: In order to sustain you need to create long term value for you customers, shareholders and employees. They underlying theme here is “long term”. Decisions should not be made with a short term perspective. Do not forget that none of the above stakeholders will stick to you if you do not constantly create value for them.
Strive for excellence: Whatever you do, always look for excellence. Try to learn with every step and look to make it better the next time. Excellence has to be the fundamental philosophy of your actions. Give your customer the best experience you can “over-and-over again”.
Act with humility and integrity: Create a brand that associates with humility and integrity. Customers tend to like brands that are associated with humility and are more likely to stick to it. Integrity has to be the cornerstone for long term success. We have seen large corporations go down to rubble due to lack to integrity. Please take corporate governance seriously
Look to drive an innovative culture: Don’t kill ideas. Keep reinventing yourself in new and more innovative ways. Innovation should happen on the fronts of product, process and technology. Create something new in each of these areas and build an ecosystem where innovation is rewarded.
Hire people for their values: You can teach a person about technology and domain. However, it is very difficult to teach them about values. Setup your own organizational values and ensure that you hire people that are aligned to these values. Each of the values needs to be reflected in your actions and should be kept as a good looking PowerPoint presentation alone. “Value your values”
Be socially conscious: Be honest about this. Don’t do this just because the law wants you to. Give back to the society if they have given you a chance to grow.
Keep your ears open: Listen to your customers, especially the ones that don’t like you. They will give you all the inputs needed to make yourself better. Find new ways of connecting with your customer rather than a random survey form. Make them know that their feedback is being acted upon promptly.