One Startup's Way to Move Up Launch: Live Together
WorldLister just launched in early December, but it's been two years in the making -- a feat that would have taken much longer if we abided by standard nine to five office hours. With all of the algorithms, trial and error, new features and keeping up with the latest ecommerce trends and technology (a lot happens in just two years), this could have very well taken up to 10 years. Our company's solution? Live together.
It started with a vision to create a simple way for anyone to sell online, whether they had experience or not -- a technology that had not seen change in more than 15 years. We knew this would take a strong team and couldn't be done in the confines of a nine to five office.
Our dream became a reality by bringing together a powerhouse team and somehow convincing them to put their personal lives on hold and move to what is now The WorldLister House. Eight of us live and work together 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We strongly believe one of the largest factors in our success is the lifestyle we chose for this journey. By living and working together, we have truly become the best team we can be.
So how did we do it? And what did we learn along the way?
Don't pretend the traditional model will work in an untraditional way. There are no set work hours, job titles or personal character restraints. It became a collective effort. To have a successful team you must find individuals with personal drive and a willingness to put their current lifestyles aside. They must be eager to transform your single thought into one grand final result.
Start at the (right) beginning. When starting a business like this, you can't think too far into the future and you can't look back. Keep moving forward, focusing on each day, and later you'll look up and see the progress you have made. Don't spend too much time looking for immediate results.
People are everything. Sure, we're thankful the house has plenty of bathrooms and rooms to get some time away, and that we have a standing rule of "don't come back with food unless you have food for everyone," but when the team is more of a family and truly cares about the project, you avoid a lot of the problems you might expect to occur. People take the initiative to clean the kitchen or make dinner arrangements because they care. You don't need a shower schedule or a chores wheel when everyone truly cares about the success of each person on the team.
Share a vision, share the freedom. Choosing a house by the beach in Naples, Fla., didn't hurt, but the real driving factor was the shared vision and passion of our team. You must live and breathe it every day. The key to keeping your team intrigued by your idea is to allow them to make the product better. With this freedom, you find they're not concerned with a weekly paycheck. They want to make the product better because it's associated with their name and puts their skills in action.
Living to work. My team is working all hours of the day. Sometimes the team is so focused on a task, I have to tell them to get some sleep. If you find people that are willing to put "normal" work schedules aside, personal drive kicks in. It consumes them. I introduced the idea of working hard now and reap the benefits later, and I became surrounded by people that are living to work rather than working to live.
Give everyone a voice. When you have a team working and living together, there are a lot of conversations about strategy around the house. There are no formal boardroom meetings, only shared ideas. We work well together because no person's thoughts are ever ignored. This type of environment is not typical for an office, but comes naturally when you are living together.
We are living what we are creating and we are doing it together. That kind of energy is contagious and is what has made WorldLister a reality. It may not be for everyone, but for this team, it has changed our lives.
Bryan Harmon is the CEO and co-founder of WorldLister, the web application that is transforming the way people sell items online. Born and raised in South Lyon, Mich., he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served as a sergeant for six years and represented the U.S. Marines in Men's Health Magazine as a body builder. He also received the Navy Achievement Medal. Harmon is now a disabled veteran with two honorable discharges.