After 4+ years starting and running BrightGauge, I’ve learned many valuable lessons. I’ve probably learned more in these last 4 years than I could’ve ever learned getting in a master’s program or working in another company (before you go starting a company, though, beware that these lessons were quite expensive both emotionally and financially)! The one lesson I absolutely learned the hard way is that in any business, it’s all about the TEAM. In other words, Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!
Of course you also need a good idea, you need capital, you need to grit, and you need customers…but ultimately your long term success will come down to how well your team can execute together.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle
Oh did we learn this lesson the hard way. In 2013 we had to flip our entire development team. That flip cost a lot of money, cost me many sleepless nights, but worst of all it caused way too much Technical and Product Debt. Fortunately, we had some core pieces of our product that worked great, we had (and still have) amazing customers, and our customer service and sales was (is) top notch. But we couldn’t scale with that development team and certainly not with the platform we built together….and that reality stunk!
With a brand new team (and only after about 6 months working together), within 2014 we re-wrote the entire product, added amazing features, and sold more “units” than ever before. And believe it or not, it was with a smaller team than we had originally.
What makes a team different?
Though I like to think my hiring skills are amazing and that I knew exactly what I was building with the second team, I didn’t. It was intuitive luck in finding the right people who worked so well together so quickly. But looking back, I learned these two core concepts in building a team from scratch.
- People on the team must believe in teamwork. They absolutely must believe the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. No room for egos or superstars (so hard to avoid these in tech), just people proud to be part of the team and build something together.
- The team must trust each other…from top to bottom and side to side. They must trust that each person will get their tasks done, communicate well, and will carry the load when its their turn. Trust saves time, trust saves emotional capital, trust keeps the symphony sounding beautiful even in the toughest times.
How’s your Orchestra?
It has been amazing to be part of the BrightGauge team over the past two years now and I’m 100% proud to play my part. Being a part of this team has made me better at every part of my job which is one of the unspoken benefits of working within a strong team.
And this is an important point for everyone, I’m not suggesting it’s JUST the businesses’ success that is contingent on how the team works together. I’ve learned that everyone benefits when teamwork is really strong. For example, you could be a junior member of a team and the reality is your personal growth is truly determined by how well the senior team members work to teach you things, how well the leaders lay out your tasks, and how well the team does overall to afford to give you more opportunities to grow.
If you look around and you don’t think everyone on your team is doing what they need to get done or believes in the team, you should be looking elsewhere. You’re not maximizing your own potential. And you can’t fake this either, deep down everyone knows what type of team they are on. We certainly did and I’m so happy to have been able to switch teams when we did!