It's been a few weeks since the successful debut of amoCONF in the heart of San Francisco. We've been poring over the full event video, unearthing the gold from our speakers' presentations. This is us sharing what we found interesting and our thoughts. The New Year is coming up fast, so you might want to add a couple of these actionable tips to your list of resolutions.
Let's get rolling!
Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. Consciously or unconsciously, we make choices every day, and like it or not, those choices come with consequences. Sometimes just considering the repercussions can be be paralyzing, so you may be tempted to simply avoid deciding altogether. But sticking your head in the sand is never a good approach.
"The right decisions are generally not the easy ones. But you have to make them if you want the longevity of your career, your success, your path." - @BrianScudamore, Founder and CEO of @o2ebrands #amoconf
The right decisions often require second-order thinking because they rarely have short-term gains. As an entrepreneur, make tough decisions with the long-term in mind. Decisions made this way are more demanding but often more sustainable and profitable in the long run.
When you're a boss, one of the most important decisions you need to make is your leadership style. Will you micromanage every single detail or allow your team to have a free rein?
"Your job as the boss is to lead with a compass, not a map." - @markjosephson, CEO of @Bitly #amoconf
We did some finger snapping on this one. Maps are conventional and instructional. They often show paths that many have traveled before. They offer a safer and faster route, but leave little opportunity to discover something new.
Compasses are unconventional. They show the direction, but allow you to improvise the path. That includes charting your own course and creating new paths where none existed. The downside? You'll often be hacking your way through the unforgiving wilderness, which is tiring and dangerous. Do you lead with a compass, a map or both?
A good combination of both is great. Using maps can help you implement best practices, but leading with a compass gives your employees innovative freedom to meet the needs of your customers within the confines of the vision. Unconventional behavior is risky, but it is your only chance at getting above-average results.
"We have to realize if we are in a box, so that we can figure out how to step outside of it and see the world for what it is." - Lisa Dyson, Founder & CEO of @Kiverdi #amoconf
Stepping outside the box is unconventional. You and your team could comfortably focus on one thing while ignoring a hundred others. It takes bravery and awareness to realize if you are in a box, so you can figure out how to step outside.
As a leader, urge your team to focus on solving problems with an awareness of how other factors interact in the surrounding reality. Being focused is awesome. Being focused and aware is game-changing.
Another game-changing aspect of nurturing your idea from seed to success is the people involved, especially in the founding team.
"Mediocre people with a great idea tend not to do as well (as great people with a not so good idea) because you can't really switch out the people." - @dbrown, Founder & Co-CEO of @techstars #amoconf
The quality of a product or service directly relates to the quality of people working on it. Are your partners as obsessed as you are about the problem you want to solve? Do they challenge their knowledge today in search of a better way tomorrow? Do they admit when they are wrong but refuse to accept defeat? If yes, they might just be the right people to help you steer your business towards your goal and profitability.
In addition, you cannot build a successful business alone. It usually involves you hiring and managing people smarter than you. If you can leave your ego at the door, then you won't block yourself from considering intimidatingly brilliant people.
"One of the most impressive things I see that founders and CEOs do is to be able and comfortable hiring above their weight class." - @joannezchen, Partner at @FoundationCap #amoconf
However, not every smart person will be a good fit for your business. It's also crucial for them to share a genuine belief in what you are trying to achieve.
Remote work is gaining traction because of the efficiency and productivity it can bring when properly implemented.
"Our mission is everyone can contribute… that implies that you should be able to contribute from almost anywhere in the world." - @sytses, Co-founder & CEO of @gitlab #amoconf
Remote work allows for speed and coverage in hiring talent, infuses diversity and inclusion while decreasing the cost of operations. The hard part is getting it right. Like a growing number of companies, Gitlab completely operates on remote work. And considering their recent valuation of $1.1 Billion, we should all take a page from Sid's playbook.
After hiring great talent, managing and developing them is also important. You need to instill a love for sharing, learning and self-development in them. This constantly improves the everyday activities of your startup or business and the solution it provides for customers.
"Everything that we've created is, at some level, a social experiment" - @cadler, Co-founder of @kickstarter #amoconf
Don't treat your product or service as a finished good. People's perceptions and needs change as conditions change. You should always be ready for improvement — that means maintaining a rapid feedback loop with customers or a proactive search for their unarticulated need. This will give you a competitive advantage and keep you relevant in an ever-changing world.
In conclusion, running a startup is difficult. 😎
"You are going to stretch farther than you ever thought possible and every moment in your day is an opportunity to go a little bit farther." - @SummerCrenshaw, Co-founder, COO & CMO at @tilrcorp #amoconf
Challenges will test you and your employees every day, whether it's a problem with your product or service or even with the customer service. Some days will be bad and others will be great, but try to grow and learn from each of them.
Throughout amoCONF, the recurrent charge was to build a great team, be ready to make tough decisions and seek constant improvement. Whether you are searching for seed funding or looking for ways to scale, we hope you learned as much as we did.
These were just eight pieces of advice from amoCONF. Want more? Check out the full speeches of all our amazing speakers and get revved up for next year.