I’ve been in a reflective mood. Lately, my mind has been focused on the passage of time, specifically, how much our company has changed from when it first started.
A lot of this reflection comes from seeing our company video. Our design and marketing team filmed a full-length documentary for our company’s ten year anniversary.
The film we made was about our company history. Watching it from start to finish had shown me how much our focus had changed from when our journey began.
So, today I want to share with you how the focus and goals of our business shifted from the beginning to now, and how our roles have changed since then.
I think it’s important to remember where you came from and evaluate where you are now. In all likelihood, your original goals for your business will change from when you first start.
It used to be about money, but now it’s about being together.
I remember the early days of scrapping and struggling to sell payment processing services.
Part of wanting to be a business owner was because I wanted to make money. Not just money but a lot of it and my other partners can probably attest to the same.
Having enough money to retire young and provide for our families was something that had appealed to all of us when we were just starting out and dropped out of college. We had dreams of living in a luxurious home with fancy cars, private nanny, dream vacations, and private jets.
I remember having a shift in my mindset early on in the career of being an entrepreneur and soon my goals changed from being focused on money to being focused on people.
As a result of our struggles, one of the best lessons we learned was success better enjoyed together. For us, any success for one of us was equally a success for all three of us, as well as any bump in the road. A win for Tyler and Ryan was also a win for myself.
Originally, there were moments in growing our business where we could have made a lot of money faster if we cut corners and didn’t do things ethically. We could have become wealthy and found success a lot sooner, but we wanted to do things right. We wanted to be able to sleep at night with a clean conscience.
I could have left my business partners.
For example, I had the opportunity to leave Ryan and Tyler as my business partners early on in our payment processing business.
I could have left them for a substantial five-figure monthly, recurring revenue stream to myself at the age of 20. Here’s the decision I was faced with:
- One, have instant money and leave behind my two best friends.
- Two, do what I knew felt right in my gut and stick together and start over and rebuild it the right way, together.
So I decided to start over with $0 in revenue and rebuild it with them. Money wasn’t as important as earning success with them. We trusted each other and realized the right decision was not for me to make tons of money that specific moment, rather create a long-term business together.
We knew that if all three of us stayed together and chose to stay on track that we’d be stronger together, especially if we opted to value people over material possessions.
Over time our focus has shifted from being money-centered, to instead being focused on the people we serve. Once you get to the point where you are covering the necessities and have some money for a little fun, you realize that money isn’t the most important thing. Yes, it does matter, but I have had enough success to realize how having just money and possessions is empty. What makes it fun is the process of earning that money and enjoying that together.
One little trick that I’ve done to help myself and others understand this is to imagine that you have your dream home. It’s on beachfront property and can be as big as you want, with all of your fancy cars, TVs, electronics, and toys.
Now imagine you have it but you are the only person on earth. How exciting is any of it?
You see, these things are only fun because we want to enjoy them with our family and friends. I learned that I get my greatest joy from seeing other people happy.
Shifting our focus from money to people.
One of the biggest principles we’ve established inside our culture is making people the most valuable asset.
People are important to us.
It used to be money. But our mindset has changed.
Today, people are the most important part of our business. We’ve found that the best way to grow and reach our goals has to do with hiring and caring for the right people.
Ideally, we want to get to the point where our business is operating on its own when we’re not physically present. But when we are working in the office, I want to be the nitrous and the gasoline to the fire, which will motivate and inspire the team to grow. Even if I’m not there our business will be cranking along and moving forward.
In the end, the more we care about people the more success we’re going to have.
Learning to share the praise.
In looking back on the last ten years, I’ve also found the hardest part of our shift from stuff to people is the exercise of letting go and splitting the applause.
When you hire new people to fill roles you previously clung to and empower them to do their jobs, it’s a challenge to let someone else take over the particular part which you used to own.
It’s even harder to see people who you hire become more talented than you, as they excel in their particular role. However, I have to remember that our company is about the other people in it, not just me.
Growing our business over the last decade (and in the future) cannot be about us, or my partners. The goal needs to be hiring rock stars, or people we can empower to become rock stars. And if we’re doing our jobs right the outcome will be building a company that’s chock-full of talented people, all headed in the same direction.
We will indeed need to learn to share the praise we’ll be receiving.
Not to mention, I’m glad we’re to the point of no longer having to do everything on our own. It’s ideal for the company to be in a position of security and stability.
But it’s bittersweet.
Slowly learning how to delegate is hard, but rewarding. As we continue to expand, I’ve had to let things go and focus on the bigger picture.
Remember, it’s about sharing the praise and focusing on your people.
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