Sorry. No image for this post. I thought about what would be fitting, but decided to spare you some clip art of a finish line or some stock photo of a dude in a tie, inside an all-glass office, raising his hands in apparent victory. You’re welcome.
Instead, I’ll try to just make my point with some old-fashioned words for this post, which is all about the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far in the startup world where I now find myself.
First, some background…one of the main responsibilities of my position at Zipscene is to define the development path of our platform. Which features do we develop next? How do we connect them to our existing features and to those of partners? What are our customers asking for today and what will they be asking for tomorrow?
You get the idea.
Since we’re working to constantly advance our platform, it’s a process that doesn’t really have a beginning, middle, or end. This is a lot different than what I’ve been used to. In the agency world where I just came from, most work was project-based. You knew exactly when it started and precisely when it was finished. This was also true for a lot of the marketing responsibilities I had way back at AstraZeneca. There was a planning season, there were sales meetings to prepare for, there were windows to develop new content. It was all scripted out and you knew exactly when to start things and when to finish them.
Well, that’s all changed for me now. There isn’t an end. There’s not really even a well-defined beginning. First off, since the company is fairly new (at least with its present focus) and there aren’t 10,000 people working here (or even 100), there are no giant manuals and complicated Gantt charts telling you exactly how and when to do things. You define the rules for yourself including what exactly needs to be done.
That’s not for everyone, but I personally love that and it was a big reason why I made this move.
In addition, when you’re creating something that hasn’t been done before and for which there appear to be an infinite number of paths to follow (with few correct paths), you’re constantly updating your plan and always looking for the next area to focus. You always are looking for reasons to make adjustments (either tiny ones or giant ones).
Basically, you never know when you’re done.
I suppose you’d know you were done when your product offering was perfect and when there was no logical way to enhance it. When you reach this point, you probably quickly find out that you’re out of business thanks to your complacency. In my new world, there’s no room for that. A bigger company might be able to absorb it, but not when you’re one of the littler guys. If you don’t do it, there might not be someone else around to pick up the slack.
So, I find that I’m always searching. Always thinking about what I’m missing. Always researching for an opportunity. Always checking for something I’ve missed. Always prodding for the soft spots in the plan. Always investigating what could be better.
It’s a series of check marks next to tasks on an always-growing to-do list.
And I’ve found out that this is what I really love about this place.
PS: this is as good a place as any to let you know that our company is looking for some great UX people along with equally awesome developers (both junior and senior). And we also need some superstar web designers. If you’re interested or know someone who might be, send me a note to jointheteam [@] zipscene.com. We’d love to have you.
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