Your Current Business May Not Be Your Ultimate Business.
Our guest in Episode 13 of The Value Creators podcast, Benjamin Johnson, is a technical entrepreneur, one who recognizes that technical innovations are to serve customers, and not to introduce technical wizardry for its own sake. He founded an enterprise legal services company early in his career, to help users of corporate legal services to achieve new speed and efficiency, helping them to do business better. His most recent business, Particle 41, is in DevOps, helping customers in multiple industries to strengthen their processes and differentiate their offerings.
Patient specialization is a critical component of success.
Customer-first thinking brings growth to technical specialization. Thinking like a customer means systems thinking: what is the complete solution the customer is seeking? Specialization does not mean being a tiny piece of the solution. By integrating the entire system, you become more valuable to the customer. The future of entrepreneurship is in integrating systems, and defining integration is the job of the entrepreneur. A business can keep growing by advancing towards greater integration.
Innovation is ephemeral — you never stop.
Innovation is important, but don’t think of it as an event. It’s an activity that is continuous. Every single innovation will be competed away. You’ve just got to keep on doing it, and always be alert to new ideas, new combinations of existing ideas, and changes in customers’ wants and needs.
All decisions are subject to re-evaluation. None of us gets it right every time. Most decisions are made with incomplete information. But that’s necessary — an entrepreneur needs to make high-velocity decisions. If they are wrong, own up to it, fix the consequences, and re-evaluate based on new information.
Long-term profit keeps the journey on track.
With no profit, there is no business, no jobs for employees, and no innovation. Make a profit in a fair and moral way. And make a profit in the long term, not necessarily maximizing profit in the short term. Everyone — the whole society — benefits.
Entrepreneurs don’t plan: they execute a vision with excellence.
Entrepreneurs have a vision they are working towards. They have aspirational goals for sales or revenues. But they know they can’t plan the future. It’s hard to plan a month or even a day, let alone five years. What they can do is execute with excellence. The key question is, did you get it done today? As the world of business closes in on real-time, execution is primary.
The winning entrepreneurial trait is brute determination.
Sometimes, all you have is your own determination to succeed. You define what are the things that MUST be done, and you execute with no exceptions. Vision is good, but execution is hard. Doing the hard things, correctly and consistently, is what makes an entrepreneur.