Much has changed since my blog post a year ago. I didn’t realize I hadn’t posted an update on our own site for over a year until my sister emailed to tell me how interesting my profile was. Let me provide a quick review.
2011 was a crazy year. We doubled our revenue and headcount. Remodeled and moved into a new building. We launched several new products. We also started something called Venture Fridays, an entrepreneur happy hour meeting held once a month in our “made for party” first floor. Over 500 people have joined the Venture Fridays group in the last year. We have cohosted with several local companies and at several venues, including Sprint, KC Next, and Snow & Co. I think it has made a meaningful impact on aligning the entrepreneurial spirit in Kansas City.
Another big project was Operation Launchpad. We shut the entire company down for a week and had our own in-house startup weekend. Every employee pitched an idea, employees voted on the top five and teams were formed. The management staff offered professional guidance and provided three square meals a day. The teams worked their asses off and we came up with some really good ideas. It was a very meaningful week for the entire company. It gave the team a new appreciation for other job functions and what it takes to get a product to market successfully. Oh yeah, there were also cash prizes. I think we ended up spending about $50,000 on this endeavor.
Once 2012 hit, many of us were either burned out or ready to kill each other. The management was mandated to take a 3 month sabbatical and many other key employees took some much needed time. The goal was to regroup, reenergize and reinvent ourselves and the company. I figured I would come up with all kinds of great new inventions during the downtime, but I pretty much unplugged and focused on my family. I’m quite sure my wife was happy to see the sabbatical come to an end. I READ A BOOK called Do Nothing on the topics of management, delegation, and empowering employees. We put all of those things into practice during the sabbatical. To our employees’ credit, they did a pretty good job while we were away.
The major issue we faced at the end of the sabbatical: employees were now used to piloting the ship. Everybody wanted to continue to drive and manage their projects or people. My “light bulb moment” over sabbatical was that we needed a singular focus, market, or mission to be truly successful. The independent projects and departments became a source for too much conflict. I associate it to Google search. You can spend all your time being good and trying to get two results on page one or you can spend all your time being great and shooting only for the first spot. The first spot will always trump the 2nd and 3rd combined, and so on.
So here we are. We have lost some people I really respected and enjoyed working with. But with our singular mission and focus, we are leaner, meaner, and are kicking some serious ass. Maybe I’ll write again in the next year, but I doubt I’ll read another book.