I work with a lot of small to mid-sized entrepreneurs and start-up businesses that are trying to grow. For every business, the “secret sauce” is a little different, but at the end of the day, it’s not complicated, it’s just not easy to do. So I read with great interest a recent interview with Box CEO Aaron Levie because he put the issues so succinctly.
He had 4 keys that he felt led to Box’s success:
- Go where the business is
- Hire to fit your culture
- Have a mix of experience levels
- Communicate whenever possible
The first one is pretty simple. When deciding to go into business, we often think we know who our product or service is best suited for, however, we need to read the market and see where the niche really is and do some reality testing vs. what we initially thought. Box found that enterprise clients were the ones who really needed their service, not necessarily individuals.
The second recommendation is something you hear me talk about a lot! Hire to fit your culture. At Box, they’ve identified their values as High Energy, Optimistic About the Future, Collaborative, Positive, and Disruptive. By hiring for these values, they move the company forward much faster and minimize the cost and disruption of a mis-hire. I love the fact that they have been doing this from day one – and look at their results!
The third point is important, but often forgotten, especially when young start-ups think only other young people can think like they do. Box has made it a point to hire both experienced and inexperienced leaders and executives to create a diverse team. This is also disruptive in a positive way by bringing different backgrounds and experience together while still opening the door to new ideas, methods and thinking. It fits their culture beautifully.
The last point is also something that I constantly encourage – communicate, communicate and then communicate again. People will make up stories in a vacuum and too often leaders think they’ve communicated, but no one really knows what’s going on. People need to be in the know. They need to know that what they are doing is making a difference and is relevant. They need to be a part of something. Good communication is the way to make sure you’ve created an inclusive and informative environment so that everyone is productive.
None of this is rocket science, however, the combination of these four simple steps has led to phenomenal success for Box and applied to your company, can improve your results too. It’s never too late to implement best practices, especially as they relate to creating a culture of performance and living the organization’s values.