✔ It's all about passion! - Passion 5: Growth [part 2]

Note: This is the 16th excerpt from my book "It's all about passion" which I wrote and shared as a gift to my readers and my Nozbe customers on my 35th birthday. You can get the entire digital ebook (PDF, Mobi or ePub) for free or buy from Amazon (all proceeds go to charity).

I will be publishing the entire book as a series of blog posts over the next weeks here every Friday, so you can read it bit by bit (I know you might be too busy to read an entire book at once). I'm also doing it to be able to "talk to you" about each chapter in the comments section below, so make sure to post your feedback, questions and your passion-related stories in the comments. Thank you for your passion!

"It's all about passion!" - The 7 types of passion I discovered over 7 years of running my productivity startup

It's all about passion - 16

Passion for Growth, part 2

“Remind your Team about your Mission and why it matters. Say it over email. Say it in meetings. Say it all the time. Say it with meaning and passion. Your team needs to be reminded that what they’re doing matters and that you’re insanely passionate about it. They’re not as invested in it as you are and you need to lead by example. If you’re not insanely passionate about your mission, maybe it’s time to kill your startup.” - Ryan Carson, co-founder of Treehouse

Growing by embracing the challenges

Running a startup business is not a walk in the park. Things don't always go the way you planned... and what's worse, sometimes the technology evolves in totally different directions from the ones you assumed. You may invest lots of time, energy and money in developing a Flash-based tool for mobile devices and then all of the sudden Mr Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. decides this technology is "old-school" and none of their i-Devices (iPhones, iPads, iPods) will support it. You're out of luck and you need to pivot and change your strategy... or die.

Pivoting is hard and painful... and great for you

Big companies usually fear change and do everything in their power to maintain the status quo. They see change as the enemy and employ all of their resources to bring back the "old way of doing things". Don't take this route. Never.

Nozbe was initially built as a web application and with developments of HTML5 and projects like Chrome OS from Google I was confident we should be just improving our web site and not focus on installable apps.

The iOS App store and Mac App store and all the other places of app distribution proved me wrong. We had to adjust our strategy and treat our web-app as a web service with a great API and focus on building installable, "native" apps. Our customers loved the idea but were anxious to wait as we built these apps. It still is a steep learning curve. We learned a lot more about our tool, our users and our mission by building a whole array of apps for all the major platforms: Android, Mac, Windows and of course the iPhone and the iPad.

This year we're taking this change to a whole new level and we're launching a Nozbe 2.0 suite of apps which will introduce a "mobile first" strategy in our company. We'll make sure first that our mobile apps are the best for our customers and we're "growing" our bigger desktop apps from them. Instead of shrinking the desktop apps to their mobile counterparts, we're building mobile apps and expanding them to the desktop. It sounds trivial, but believe me, it's not. It's a whole different game for us.

Change is your opportunity - embrace it

When the wind of change is blowing - feel it, take it, love it. It's a stimulus that you needed to maybe alter your way of doing things, put some new systems or processes in place or hire some new people you thought you wouldn't need.

Just think about the whole entertainment industry: music, movies and publishing. They hated the digital age. They fought it even though they knew it was a losing battle. Now they are left behind and they have to catch up. Don't be like them and embrace the change to make something new. To work on something much better than you initially wanted.

Your fear of change is a sign. Listen to it.

Seth Godin talking about "the lizard brain" and our internal resistance keeps on saying that the voice of fear inside of us needs to be heard. But in a different way. If the voice says "don't" you need to translate it to "just do it. it's going to be great". I remember that whenever I gave in to the voice of my fear, I always regretted the decision afterwards. Now I know - the fear is a sign and if you're passionate about your startup idea, you're going to take it as a challenge worth pursuing.

Grow with others and build partnerships

When you already know that fear is your best indicator to grow and take on challenges, very often you're still not able to make it on your own. Even if you have a great team behind you. Sometimes you need to search for experience and expertise on the outside.

Better OK now than GOOD two years later

With Nozbe I understood the importance of iPhone support very early on. When iPhone launched in the USA, I built a web-app for the iPhone in a week and it was a great decision. This web-app optimized for this new revolutionary device helped me market my main application and made my early-iPhone-adapter-users very happy.

When Apple announced the iPhone App Store I didn't understand the importance of it. After all, I never built a native app before so I just failed to comprehend the significance of a great distribution platform. After more than half a year, I finally hired some guys from far East to build me an iPhone app. Again, I didn't have the expertise nor the resources to build a good iPhone app and it was really bad. I tried to make it better but it simply wouldn't do.

I partnered with another company that was building iPhone and iPad apps and we managed to strike a deal that they'd offer the app for pay and it would work independently as well as with Nozbe.com subscription. Many gurus advised me not to take this deal. I did. We managed to get a decent iPhone app quickly and an iPad app shortly after the iPad launched. This gave us tremendous momentum and my web-application grew by leaps and bounds shortly afterwards.

This experience not only helped me develop the user base of my web app but also taught me a lot about the importance of good partnerships. After this one, I formed a lot more partnerships in many different areas and learned quickly where I should focus on building an internal team and in which cases I should tap into someone else's experience.

The passion and drive to build a great product and swiftly ship an iPhone and iPad app taught me to decide quickly. I grew a lot from the experience. It was a good decision and it helped my company grow, too. After a few years, when we realized how important the mobile platforms are to our business, we decided to reverse the decision and built our own free mobile apps for our customers. And we did. And now we're taking it to a whole new level with Nozbe 2.0.

To be continued... or get the book free and continue reading :-)

Question: Do you treat change as an opportunity?

Posted on Friday, December 5, 2014 (passionbook)

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