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Decentralizing a Tiny Company

As my friends know, I took a strange and crazy decision to found a software development company in Macedonia, a little unknown place on the planet, where I don't even speak the language, let alone know anybody personally. This crazy decision doesn't seem so crazy today 2 years later, now that  it serves our customers better than the development-centers we utilized before. 
As we start our 2nd year of evolution in Macedonia, we are confronted again with another crazy decision, this time related to growth of our operations in this country. 
Now, Macedonia is an increasingly centralized country, which has seen it's capital-city Skopje attract vast migration of population in the last 10-20 years. This has been particularly true in the IT-industry. Some of my best employees are immigrants from other parts of the country. While that is true, it's disheartening to see people being uprooted from their families, especially Macedonians that have a cozy multi-generational family tr…
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Mission, Community & Communication

Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg shared the secrets to discover growth on the platform along the corporate mission at #dmexco 2017. Here's the summary:
1. Focus on your mission. Stand for something, define your purpose and mission. By doing so, 300 million people-businesses connections have been established in Germany. 
2. Build community. Businesses being more accessible than ever, requires new ways of interacting with customers. 
3. Communicate who you are. Drive the conversation and be authentic while doing so. Mobile video has proven as very helpful for this purpose.

2 Parts of Leadership

Talking to one of my younger colleagues about a new leadership role she's going to be taking up in our company we broke down leadership into two parts – a "tactical" part and a "talent" part.

We took Barack Obama's "Yes we can!" as a example of how a leader of millions does it. The "talent" to energise millions of people is an intrinsic skill of leaders, which in my humble opinion, contrary to others, can be developed. But like all talents, say music or a sport, it takes time, persistence and dedication to learn.

To say sound bytes and fire millions of people up is however not the end of leaders' duty to his people. It has to be followed up by several "tactical" measures, so that the message sticks, and produces the desired outcomes. President Obama had to choose a perfect platform to let the message out, work the media, explain himself to the extent necessary, embed those 3 words, like invisible ink, into the spirit of his…

Building Culture

A friend reminded that building culture is probably the single biggest challenge in creating new companies in current times.
Dynamic and engaged leadershipLiving valuesResponsibility and accountability further notes..
Install YOUR company values in the hiring process.Fire people that were identified false positive in the process of hiring (probation period).

3 Mistakes I should have avoided

Shortly, I'm going to close one of my companies, bruised with losses. I made 3 mistakes which should be avoided in future.

Fire early, if it's not working out
If an employee isn't working out in the first 1-2 months, let them go early. I kept hoping all too often that people will improve over time, which I guess is a reasonable expectation, but strangely never happened. 
These few signals are telling.  The Ladder Principle: Setup a small theoretical Onboarding phase, but then move the newcomer to practical tasks soon after, and notice if (s)he's catching on to the next level of difficulty each week or so.Courageous people do better than the shy ones.Look for self-reliant autonomous achievers. Tight eye on operative balancesheet
It's easy to get ahead of yourselves when on speed. Entrepreneurs by nature are poor bean-counters, but delegating finance completely to a book-keeper lead to poor collections, late payments and an uncontrolled cash-flow. 
Play at right market …

Stay focused on being creative

There's a lot of sh** that's going wrong in my company and life right now. Bombs going up all over the place.

My only escape that seems to work, to tune out of the fear, disappointment and depression is to seek out for creative tasks like working on a marketing idea, solving a product-market-fit or stitching together a new solution. 
In fact, someone said that one cause for release of dopamine is creative thinking. This is a great protective mechanism.

B2B Software Product Development

I guess this holds for any product, but I'll limit my notes to B2B software.

You have to remember that you can't be everything for everybody. You have to know who your primary customer is, and focus your product on him.

Hopefully your are right in estimating his demand, and right about your solution for his problem. Else you may pay a heavy price, in wasted time, effort, investment (and emotional attachment), because your primary customer may refuse your solution.

Of course, an after-life may exist, if you manage to pivot successfully, but don't count on this succeeding, because by this time, your capacities would be much reduced.