I had a great conversation with a fellow competitor the other day. Yes, competitors from EVERY industry talk to each other. In the digital dev world, today’s competitor might be tomorrow’s partner, depending on the project. He and I were talking about how much work there was, how our companies were just expanding, and how successful we were in our business.
And then he said, “man, we sure were lucky.”
Working 18+ hours a day for years…managing triple % year-of-year growth…coordinating between several offices…Look, I worked my a$$ off. That’s my point. I worked for this success/failure/whatever it’s this company is and going to be. I earned it. I’m proud of it. This wasn’t easy – stop saying we’re lucky.
And on and on I ranted at my fellow competitor.
To which, HE replied….
“It’s digital development in a tech-boom. You don’t have to be good – you have to be present. EVERYONE wants what we’re doing. It’s too hard to figure out if we’re actually good at our trades, because there’s so much demand and no one can really tell the difference between the good or the bad. Anyone out of college can land a cushy gig at the next big-startup… We’re lucky because we’re at least proficient at our trades, and we’re in the middle of a virtual gold-rush. Nothing wrong with that.”
And I have to admit, he’s kind of right. If I took an honest look at the business landscape…we really are lucky. I don’t have to do cold-calls for business. I don’t have to manage a company in a down-industry. If I compare myself to someone in construction or print, I’m not dealing with the challenges those industries face – massive layoffs, diminishing revenue models, ossified command structures, etc. But I have other ones – this industry is really competitive. I need to know how to retain, train, and attract highly-sought and skilled talent; I need to know how to manage growth (invest the profits, or share in the spoils?); and i need to have an ever-changing plan for what is the goal for the next 3-5 year , etc. In those areas, I feel confident that I’m doing a competent job, compared to my competitors. I feel like luck helped, but no one’s luck sustains for years.
I do believe growing a business, even a start-up, is not a crap-shoot. Lotto winners are lucky. I would never say winning the lottery is a good long-term strategy.