Lessons Learned From 15 Years of HubSpot: Building a Business With Heart
When building a team, it’s essential to prioritize diversity. Building a homogenous team will only incur culture debt, which will eventually become harder to pay off as the company grows. It’s crucial to build a diverse team early on to avoid culture debt and ensure that the team’s future is secure.
Solve for the Customer
To build a successful business, it is important to instill a “customer-first” attitude and implement mechanisms to foster that mindset. Solving for the customer should be a part of your organizational culture from the early days, and you should implement mechanisms that help you walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Examples of such mechanisms include live customer interviews before all team meetings, conducting NPS surveys and piping live responses into a dedicated Slack channel, and maintaining a list of “sharp edges” every year, which are decisions that may not have been as customer-friendly as they should have been.
Good Execution is Key
Great ideas are necessary, but good execution pays the bills. To succeed, a company must have a Get Shit Done (GSD) attitude. From day one, HubSpot has been very execution-oriented. The company’s success came from pushing every day and moving forward, never afraid to take calculated risks to achieve its goals.
Write Down Your Culture
As a company grows, there will be a gradual drop in the degree to which people learn about its culture through osmosis. Hence, it is essential to document the company’s values and culture in collaboration with the entire team. It should be articulated in a readable and understandable form, and this is where the Culture Code is essential. Writing it down helps avoid miscommunications, misunderstandings, and negligence by promoting alignment and clarity among the team.
Transparency Pays Off
Transparency is an efficient practice that is scary yet spectacularly effective. A company creates trust by sharing important yet confidential information with the entire team, fostering transparency that best makes sense for everyone. Implementing this practice is likely to attract the most valued and trustworthy team members to your company.
Choose Your Co-founders Wisely
Co-founder conflict is the number one cause of company failure. To minimize the risk, choose your co-founders wisely. Mutual respect, admiration, and love are crucial when selecting potential team members since it is not always about their skill set.
You Do Not Always Have to Create a New Category
It’s not always necessary to create a new category when building a business. Instead, focus on helping contribute to people who might not have been experiencing the benefits of that product category before. Do not be afraid to outgrow the initial stage and expand into new markets.
Believe in Your Team
To achieve your ambitious dreams, keep pushing on and give your team autonomy to take action, fail, and keep trying until success comes along. Your team’s performance is essential, and it’s important to recognize that great ideas often take longer to succeed. Bound to uncertainty and exploration, they are worth seizing nevertheless.
Take Smart Risks
It’s easy to become risk-averse as a company grows. Still, it’s critical to take smart risks and push to make bold moves that have a chance of being spectacularly impactful. Bold bets, although risky, may also bring in high rewards in the long run.
Be Rationally Generous
Always try to add value before attempting to extract it. It’s okay to leave some money on the table, charge less than your competitors, and allow your partners and customers to benefit from the value you create. It may even help increase long-term profitability, attract new customers, and expand into new markets.
Say No to Cynics, Yes to Skeptics
The team’s success depends on having smart people with a positive attitude who are energy accretive and lift everyone’s mood. Avoid hiring cynics who believe things will never improve or get better. It’s important to include skeptics on the team who will push and question things but have good intentions at heart.
System Thinkers Determine Long-Term Success
System thinkers on your team will analyze and simplify complex ideas. They seek patterns and opportunities where small actions can result in significant impact. They are the important minds who will define your company’s long-term success.
Fifteen years on, HubSpot has grown in leaps and bounds, but the lessons learned over the years continue to hold relevance. Building a diverse and customer-centric team, executing well, documenting your company’s values, and being transparent all contributes to building a successful and long-lasting business that stands the test of time.