If you work in tech, chances are your existing business model is completely different from when you first started your business. Consider an episode from season 1 of Silicon Valley, where main character Richard Hendricks learns that a competing startup is developing a product nearly identical to one he himself is entering in a TechCrunch Disrupt competition. With his team, Hendricks scrambles to differentiate their offering in a way that initially seems nearly impossible but after a restless night of tech changes ends up winning the competition.
Running a real-life tech business isn’t exactly the same, of course, but in many ways it's quite similar. Whether you provide a direct-to-consumer product or work with enterprise, your customer demands are going to change as new innovations develop. As a tech CEO, I’ve personally experienced this explosive industry, with its new advancements and consumer demand. So, how do entrepreneurs find better ways to lead their organizations through these changing times? Below, I’ve compiled some helpful tips:
1. Be nimble.
As a tech company leader, you must be nimble to stay afloat. While split decisions are not the best strategy, working fast and thinking on your feet will help you provide your employees with the best direction. You should still weigh the pros and cons of a flexible business model, but be ready to implement strategies quickly so you can evolve with your industry. Recalling the TechCrunch episode of Silicon Valley, Richard’s character illustrates the need to “pivot” to ensure his existing business model keeps up with his competitors'. If you notice that competitors have caught on to your original ideas and are pushing for new and improved versions, be aware of that fact and pivot your business and its offerings to provide something even better.
2. Stay ahead of the curve.
Besides being nimble, be prepared for what’s ahead. Anticipate the changes in your industry by conducting research and reading the latest analyst and industry reports. Subscribe to important industry newsletters, collect quarterly reports and listen to what others are saying. While things always change, the more you predict the future, the better equipped you'll be to have the groundwork for a new plan in place. Once you feel in step with the forecasts in your industry, make sure your products or developments are staying ahead of industry advancements.
3. Always keep your end goal in mind.
For any change or decision that you do make, to the direction of a project or for the addition of a new service, consider whether it will benefit your end goal. It’s easy to get caught up in what your competitors are doing and how they’re evolving with the industry; but if any change doesn’t make sense for your end goal, it may not be worth making. It is just as important to also consistently assess and even redefine your end goal. Ensure that while you evolve, you keep in mind that "smart" decisions are those that will help you reach these goals.
4. Create diversity.
It’s important to not only to be a strong leader in a fast-moving industry, but to also have a strong team. By creating a diverse team of players who offer unique, individual perspectives, you will be able to block and tackle multiple projects and to glean smart insight from your employees. Michael Dell once said, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, find another room.” In other words, surround yourself with people who push you to think differently, who bring a new point of view to the table and who elevate your leadership.