Building a tech company is easy now, they say. Technology is so advanced, so relatively easy to use and to build compared to preceding technology – which is especially true for tech companies that are based purely online. But with this extreme advancement and greater ease of development come new challenges. Building a tech company may be easy – but building a solid, unique company that can grow and attract consistent new users is not. Technology is almost by definition a commodity. Do you NEED the iPhone X to function on a daily basis? Mm… if most of us are being honest, likely the answer is ‘no’.
The same is true for things like productivity trackers. If you look up this app classification on any app store, you’ll get hundreds of results. And if each of those companies is honest, they will admit they sell a product that is a commodity. And with that label comes extra challenges… Commodities cannot stand out by being the ONE THING that will make your business work. Any number of things might make your business work. So tech companies have to stand out by being different, offering unique features, being the first to do something, or the best to do something. And that often means taking risks and facing sometimes significant setbacks in our pursuit of always giving you the best product we can.
The basic challenges we face are faced by all businesses, all companies, all individuals, really. How you face those challenges is what sets you apart – as a business or a member of a team.
Challenge 1: Small, niggling issues you know are there, but don’t exactly know how to fix. Maybe these problems didn’t even originate in your business. For us, this came in the form of an update to the Amazon Fire Stick, which blocked some of the code on our App, making the screens time out instead of staying online. We knew the issue. We fixed it a couple of times after a couple of Fire Stick updates. But the last update was a doozy of an update. The old fixes didn’t work anymore. So we had to take several steps back and try something completely new by rewriting and releasing the entire App. See more about that in Point 3.
Maybe as a business owner you know some of your processes need to be more efficient. That clients need to move more smoothly from sales to customer service, or your sales people need to somehow be more disciplined about their sales tracks. Maybe you try different things – attack various symptoms, but can’t seem to find the real root of the issue. Sometimes, the only thing to do is take a step back, or two or three, even if it feels like you are giving up ground or costing yourself more time and effort than you can afford. Because sometimes the only way to address a problem is to start from a new angle.
Challenge 2: Unexpected crashes. Sometimes the website just goes down. Every once in a while this happens literally. We’ll get a sudden flood of emails asking why the site isn’t working. And once we’re done jumping around having a mini panic attack (just kidding! No one on our team is the panicking type) we let people know we’re aware of the problem and working to get it solved, and then we send the appropriate team member in to figure it out and usually have the website back up in a matter of minutes.
On a metaphorical level, this type of sudden and brief crash can catch you off guard at any time. Maybe as a salesperson, you inexplicably don’t get a potential customer you just KNEW you had – like it was right there. It was so easy. Or was supposed to be so easy. And yet they walked out the door. You don’t even know what happened. And now your boss wants answers. Maybe as a business owner, a client who has a lot of business with you gets upset at something silly and random and threatens to withdraw all of his business. It’s a mental setback as much as anything, but it still feels like a mini-crash, and no one likes that feeling. Allow yourself a brief Oh s*** moment. Address what immediately needs to be addressed, and then figure out what went wrong.
Challenge 3: Everything takes longer than you expect. We want to give you upgrades as soon as we can. We listen to your feedback, have discussions, make detailed lists of all the things we plan to change. But accomplishing those lists just takes longer than we would like, sometimes despite our best efforts. Apps have to go back to the developer three, four, five times for small, random changes that all take longer than we expect. But eventually, we are able to give you a clean, functional, useful product that can help you and your business grow.
Almost nothing in life comes as quickly or easily as you would like. Especially not when you are trying to better yourself, or your business, develop healthier personal habits, etc… Reinventing the way your sales people approach closing, or restructuring your office doesn’t happen over night. Just like deciding to eat healthy and exercise doesn’t produce instantaneous results. Most good things in life take work, consistently, over a period of time to achieve the desired result. But the time put into something is part of the satisfaction you eventually get out of it.
As long as you are putting yourself into something worthwhile, like giving our customers the best possible activity tracker that we can, the adversities you face don’t have to be any more than the stepping stones (or maybe boulders you scramble over) on your way to success.
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