In an earlier blog post, I argued that right now is probably the best possible time for working with digital transformation. It’s also a fantastic time to be in business. The world around us is ripe with opportunities for things, just waiting to be improved using digital technology in a better way. You can also say that what lies ahead is one big playing field of opportunities for creating businesses focused on digital transformation.
In hindsight, it becomes clear that founding Enuda, and getting the business to where we are today required more than just an idea related to technology. I think about it as shown in the below image.
The business idea relates to some opportunity in the market in combination with a solution to the problem using some digital technology. Textbook business development will tell you that the basis for your business venture is: “Look for voids in the market, which you can fill with technology and voila, there you have your new venture.” I agree this is a necessary part of starting anything, and without an understanding of how to create value, you will soon be out of business.
But as the above model indicates this is necessary, but not sufficient. The business idea is surrounded by something else, which I call the mindset. The mindset determines how you make decisions. You can find long lists of advice and best practises on “how to establish your business”, but in my honest and humble opinion, they only focus on the technicalities. They forget some essential aspects that all together determine what kind of business you want. Any organisation, small or large, is characterised by a specific culture, and that culture does not evolve overnight. The process takes time, and it is the sum of many small and insignificant decisions, that together forms a whole.
The mindset as your guiding compass
All of these small and insignificant decisions get much easier when you have a ready mindset from the start. The philosophy will guide these decisions and make sure they align to some over-arching idea on how this should work. In the heat of the moment, it is easy to lose the overview, and therefore having a clear mindset on these matters enables you to go with the natural decision, that comes into mind. You can also interpret the above image as two essential questions:
I’m not talking about the logo of the business, the company name or any other visible token. Instead, I think the outer circle as ideas, that together form a coherent way of seeing the business and the environment in which it operates. Here comes a (not complete) list of things that inspired me and my thinking. In other words, these are some of the ideas that together constitute the mindset I use for looking at the business and making everyday decisions.
Bootstrapping means building a business from the ground up with nothing but own savings. No external financing in the form of loans or investors. So what is a bootstrapping mindset? For me, a bootstrapped business can be anything between a small freelance outfit and a million euro business. The idea is that you are determined to build a business that pays for itself every single day. The downside is, of course, that the risk of the company sits on your shoulders. But the upside is the freedom to experiment, learn and adapt as you go along. An additional aspect of this is that I tend to think long-term.
There is a lot of good writing out there on this topic and the implications for the business. I believe the best and most concise description of this is in Seth Godin’s “The Bootstrapper’s Manifesto”. He provides clear-cut writing on how to think bootstrapping.
This part of economics brings in science results from psychology to understand how people make decisions. Whereas standard economics assumes people to behave as rational decision-makers, the behavioural branch stands on the shoulders of social science, proving that humans are far from reasonable in our decision-making process. I am a huge fan of Professor Dan Ariely, and his book “Predictably Irrational” is always a great inspiration on how people, in general, make decisions.
I use the learnings from this field of science in everything from marketing, sales, communication to negotiating with clients.
Charles Darwin changed forever how we see human beings, along with all other living things. We now understand living things as a result of a long and never stopping evolution of adaptations. Evolutionary psychology puts light on the core of human nature, and argue that much of human behaviour is the result of evolutionary adaptions, that evolved to solve problems in our environment. My thinking and understanding of human nature and our complex behaviour results from the great work of authors like Steven Gaulin (“Psychology – an evolutionary approach”) and David M. Buss (“Evolutionary Psychology”).
These ideas shaped my intense focus on cooperation, and in general on how to create and sustain a high performing team.
KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid
From Josh Kaufman and his excellent book “The Personal MBA”, I learned about Gall’s Law: All complex systems that work evolved from simpler systems that worked. If you want to build a complex system that works, start with a more straightforward approach and then improve it over time.
Ignition is an excellent platform for building industrial applications, and its versatility means near unlimited possibilities. The result is the risk of scope creep – the situation where more and more requirements end up in the solution. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep a focused eye on Gall’s Law and work with prototyping and iterations instead.
From Cal Newport and his amazing book “Deep Work”, I learned about the value of creating an environment with longer periods of distraction-free time. What we do is difficult. It requires thinking and concentration, something that is difficult if your workday is blown to pieces by meetings, status reports and other managerial systems. Communication in the form of bouncing ideas, getting and providing help and discussing solutions are all essential elements in a successful team. The ideas originating from Deep Work inspired my thinking on how to create a work environment focused on getting the best out of people’s time.