Spending time on the wrong stuff

I’ve worked at small, fast-growing companies, large, slowly dying companies, and monolithic ones so big that no one person knows anything.

At dying companies, you spend a lot of time trying to figure out why something ISN’T working.

  • Why is the revenue going down
  • Why are customers complaining
  • Why are employees leaving for other jobs
  • Why aren’t we growing

You run experiment after experiment, and nothing moves the needle. Then you spend the next four weeks optimizing the same failed experiment. Small, insignificant wins are celebrated and then, two weeks later, forgotten. Instead of working on new things, most of the time is spent protecting the status quo. All this busy work is like rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic.

At fast growing companies, the bulk of your “data analysis” is spent trying to figure out why new features worked SO WELL.

  • Why did customer numbers double again
  • Why is revenue up again
  • Why are all the metrics up this month when it was flat this time last year
  • Why did we beat the budget again

At fast growing companies customers are your secret sales team as they refer your product to their friends. Happy customers also offer up great product ideas and they use your product in ways you never intended. It’s fun, exciting and fluid.

Take a breath, and ask yourself. Where are you spending your time at work? Is it busy work or are you holding on for dear life as the product grows.

Trust me; it doesn’t have to be that hard. I’ve seen a lot of brilliant people grind themselves down in slow-growth companies , while mediocre folks have found a winning growth company, buckled up, and been successful.

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