In Lost and Founder, you will learn how to launch your startup from the ground up. The ultimate insider’s playbook for struggling founders and would-be innovators, this book contains lots of cheat codes and hacks from a founder of a company that made it big.
You may be wondering if you should read the book. This book review will tell you what important lessons you can learn from this book so you can decide if it is worth your time.
At the end of this book review, I’ll also tell you the best way to get rich by reading and writing.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Lesson 1: Identify your company’s strengths and weaknesses
Work and mood go hand in hand. As a CEO of a startup wholly dependent on its leadership, how much would it affect your performance? Probably not much. Even so, the exercise is still valuable because it’s these types of questions that show you your true strengths and weaknesses. Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses can make running your business much easier.
It’s easier to fix problems when you’re aware of them. When you discover your company isn’t particularly strong at networking, for instance, you know you should focus on it to increase the odds of hiring the best candidates.
Knowing the gaps in knowledge is vital for growth since they represent incalculable obstacles. Without the know-how, how can you come up with the best possible product? Here is the solution: surround yourself with people who are experts in the fields in which you want to achieve your goals.
When you hire someone, your job isn’t done. You must ensure the psychological well-being of those on your team if you want them to perform at their best.
It means letting go of old-fashioned common sense ideas about leadership. It is much more effective to demonstrate vulnerability at work than stereotypical authoritarianism, for example. Teamwork is enhanced when people express their feelings, express concerns and discuss their fears of judgment. In Project Aristotle, a Google project that has been running since 2012, empathy was the most consistent predictor of a team’s success.
You can make good hiring decisions when you’re aware of your weaknesses, and your employees will be happier and more productive as a result!
Lesson 2: Meritocratic promotion and diversity in your teams will make you more successful
A team’s dynamic is a critical component of its performance. But what exactly is it? You can think of it as how well you and your teammates get along. Cohesive, complementary dynamics make for great workplaces. We all value our colleagues – the people we spend the majority of our day with!
Great team dynamics are not accidental; they can be fostered and nurtured. Bringing together a diverse team is one of the best ways to achieve that. Bringing on employees from different backgrounds and skills allows for a broader range of expert opinions and insights.
Moz, for example. One of the company’s employees became pregnant, and the office realized that it was not meeting the needs of certain employees. Not enough privacy or comfort spaces were available. This led to a rethink. The company upgraded its facilities in order to meet everyone’s needs. What were the results? Happier workers!
Research has also shown that diversity boosts performance. Research conducted by McKinsey & Company reveals that racially diverse teams perform 35 percent better financially than their non-diverse counterparts. Likewise, gender diversity results in 15 percent better results than non-diverse teams.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Customers come in all shapes and sizes. By having your team reflect that, you’re much more likely to create marketing strategies, products, and services that speak to them. It’s therefore wise to consider the user experience of all kinds of people. You can tell if you’re dyslexic or color-blind by small details like color, layout, font, and word choice.
A meritocratic promotion system is the second part of developing a strong team dynamic. In order to reduce frustration and keep your team motivated, you need to provide clear paths to more senior positions.
Here, employees must be given more responsibility without necessarily becoming managers. Unfortunately, not every employee is suited for managerial duties. In fact, many people are not interested in management.
However, that’s not the only route to promotion in many companies. What if we implemented a dual-track career path that allows people to grow and evolve without assuming managerial responsibilities?
The easiest way to do that would be to create new roles such as “product owner” or “engineering architect”, and offer the same benefits and salary as a manager would.
Lesson 3: Growth hacks and Minimum Viable Products are often detrimental
Growing a business is everyone’s goal. How about a growth hack? Maybe not. Growth hacks, which are marketing strategies for rapid experimentation and product development, are often more harmful than helpful. While they may increase revenue and customers in the short run, long-term they aren’t the best way to solve problems.
Growth hacks are all about quick gains, so they’re all about quick gains. Increasing sales now can, however, prevent you from improving your products in a sustainable way to remain competitive in the future. If the balance sheet looks good enough today, what’s the point of investing and planning for tomorrow?
Furthermore, hacks over time can weaken your company. If you use a promotional strategy that lowers prices to boost sales, your customers may not purchase your product at full price later.
A Minimum Viable Product, or MVP, is no different. Despite the fact that you managed to release your product quickly, it might not meet your customers’ expectations. People will take their business elsewhere if they think your goods are shoddy.
MVPs are not useless, however. You might get a better insight into the needs of early customers if you release a product that just about meets their needs. The question then becomes, would research yield the same results?
After Moz launched Spam Score in 2015, it learned the hard way. Spam Score assessed the likelihood of spam in online search results. Spam Score users were unhappy with its suboptimal features and left some positive feedback. What’s the result? A $500k investment in engineering, research, and data collection results in minimal growth of customers.
An important thing to remember when using MVPs is that if your company is still in its infancy, it probably can afford the risk because it is not established. Consider again, however, if it’s already popular.
Rather than rolling out MVPs to a large group of users, try them with a smaller sample size. Before introducing the product to a larger market, you will use the feedback you receive to improve the product.
Lesson 4: Before you try to grow your business, take care of your existing customers
It is possible to become obsessed with growth. The next round of funding that will give your company its next growth spurt is all too tempting. Of course, that is understandable, but it can distract you from your other priorities, such as taking care of your existing customers and products.
It makes no sense to grow in one area while shrinking in another. Customers are the backbone of your business. The more you focus on acquiring new customers, the more likely it is that you will lose your existing customers. Hence, the cycle continues. As you lose existing customers, you devote more effort to attracting new ones, who you may eventually lose.
Your team should have more time to handle issues affecting current clients as a sustainable alternative. It is impossible to keep customers happier than by showing them that you care for them. Answering their questions quickly and efficiently is as simple as explaining your product’s features over the phone or via email.
Your product palette should follow the same ethos. Many companies are more successful if they offer only one product, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have more than one product. Prior to moving onto the next product, you need to build an established product first.
Google is an example. A search engine was all it was for the first decade of its existence. As its market share grew, it diversified.
The reason for this is simple: Bad experiences stick in the minds of users. It is unlikely they will try another product manufactured by the same company if they are unhappy with the first. Moreover, they often tell their family and friends to avoid that brand as well. The risk of establishing a bad reputation among potential customers is reduced by offering fewer but better products.
Create one great product users love and will pay for, then expand!
About the Author
Founder of marketing technology startup Moz, Rand Fishkin was previously the CEO. He can be found in the SparkToro offices, an audience intelligence search engine, when he isn’t giving talks on marketing around the world.
Buy The Book: Lost and Founder
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