Starting a business is no easy task. There are so many details that need to be attended to and prioritized. With AccuConference, it was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I've done in my professional career. Growing the IT staff over the years to support the growing business was quite the challenge - balancing the growth needs with the desire to conserve cash.
Looking at the hardware required for the business, we quickly realized that the costs were prohibitive to a startup, but I knew that it was doable for less. With the first development, I utilized a number of lower cost solutions that enabled me to quickly build a prototype. Once the proof of concept was done, I was able to scale the solution quickly, and meet the business needs. This type of "boot-strap" mentality has served me well in larger organizations as well, as even big companies sometimes need to get something started quickly without wasting a lot of time and money. I believe in failing early, and the only way to learn what works is to try something. With my experience in these types of environments, I can easily help to determine when a startup project is a viable market solution, or if it is time to terminate.
Once acquired, my new company (Arkadin) provided an even greater number of these startup challenges. Despite the fact that the company was significantly larger (Arkadin is owned by the NTT Group, a company with hundreds of thousands of employees worldwide), the process of making business decisions about project priorities is the same. Maximizing profit while minimizing costs remains one of my core abilities, and my strongest focus for any sized company.
Development of employees is the most critical task of any business. I believe that it is even more critical than profits and financial performance. Without having good people to do the job, eventually, it will cost you more than the savings that would be had by not having skilled workers.
"People leave their manager; they don't leave companies." -John Stumpf
Having a good team in place takes time. With the increase in need for technical talent, the shortest path to filling a seat is to just hire the best person that is available. However, I feel that this is frequently a mistake. If the best person available isn't the *right* person, it can do more damage to the company than some people realize.
By waiting for the right person for the job, other employees appreciate their role even more. It tells them that they are appreciated, and that the company does not accept mediocrity. It shows them that we will spend the money on quality workers that are equals with them. Top talent is difficult to come by sometimes, but having it provides innumerable benefits that, in the long-term, create value for the company.
Having created teams from scratch, as well as worked to change and mold existing teams, I have seen many different performance styles. Not all are a fit for every company - each organization is different. A core value of entrepreneurial spirit is what I tend to look for, as these people genuinely enjoy what it is that they do, and I would take one "can do" attitude over three pessimists any day. Again, this holds true for small businesses as well as large enterprises.
Once you have a group of skilled, willing producers, I believe in letting them do their jobs. It's important to provide guidance and to lead the team in the direction that the company needs, but these talented individuals are capable of executing the vision laid out for them, and don't need to be micromanaged. As an added benefit, I have an extensive technical background, and provide not only a resource for top technical talent to utilize, but also a mentor to junior-level engineers as well. Having both the management and the technical side has served me well in this role.
I'm always interested in hearing about new, intriguing projects, technologies, or just connecting with like-minded individuals. If something on my site strikes a chord with you, please feel free to reach out!!!