After my journey of building sales and the U.K. office of cybersecurity startup Duo Security for seven years, then leading the product marketing team for Cisco Zero Trust after the acquisition of Duo for $2.35 billion, I set off for another adventure at a different cybersecurity startup with Midwestern roots joining Blumira.
As vice president of operations at Blumira, I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons I wanted to share with others over the course of a year spent rapidly building another high-growth startup:
Take as many meetings as you can with customers, prospects and partners.
- Practice genuine curiosity and listen to learn and understand what their needs are so you can align your product and value proposition to meet those needs.
- Communicate that you are open to feedback and that there are no sacred cows.
Share your experiences openly with the world.
- Encourage your team to share with the world their work and experience that aligns with your mission and value proposition. This includes all teams sales, marketing, product, engineering, and people. Remember social media is your friend and it’s ok to share relentlessly.
- Create clear value propositions, value-based content, videos, documentation, blogs and demos that align with your value proposition and product, and then put them on your website to help educate your viewers.
Make it easy to do business.
- If you’ve been in the technology industry, you should know that the best product does not always win. Often it’s the good enough product that’s easy to buy.
- Take a customer-centric approach to make sure you are being open and honest and are incorporating their feedback.
- Make it easy to do business with you by making the product easy to try, easy to buy and easy to deploy and easy to use (the main tenets of a successful software as a service startup).
Continually try and test new things.
- There are thousands of ways for a startup to find success and your job is to discover the ones that work. Increase your odds by running many smaller tests to help replicate success.
- It’s okay to use intuition so you can move quickly and define results and outcomes as you learn.
- If something is not working, stop investing time in it and/or change your strategy or try something new.
- People love to give you advice; it won’t always be the right advice. It’s okay to try different approaches and challenge the status quo.
If it’s causing you to lose sleep, fix the problem.
- If a person or partner is not able to perform what they were hired to do, it’s likely best to make a change. Move quick but don’t overlook the people part of this. Treat them fairly and respectfully and they will likely understand and make a choice to leave on their own for better opportunities.
Surround yourself with people that are better than you.
- Every Hire You Make Must Strengthen the Team and Add New Value.
- Provide opportunity for your team and let them own their discipline and act as CEO of their own business.
- Learn from those around you and acknowledge their accomplishments.
- Strong teams attract the best talent.
Practice patience and humility.
- Sometimes things won’t move as fast as you are ready for. It’s okay at times and it can be important to learn when you need to be patient.
- Be humble and kind to others around you, and most importantly, enjoy the ride.