The typical startup journey involves a lot of failure, which has luckily been embraced by the entrepreneurial community as a positive experience. Beyond the obvious aspect of innovating in a way that, statistically, won’t work, the act of barn-raising a new company is fraught with it’s own issues.
The product has bugs.
Support times are too slow.
Our metrics aren’t adding up.
That candidate said no.
We didn’t hit our goal.
Differences of opinions.
Paying DC taxes (which sucks).
And that’s maybe 1% of the problems we have dealt with or still continue to deal with to this day.
And while it’s great that the failure that accompanies experimentation is accepted in our industry (we added it as part of our values too), what’s not discussed is it wears on the team. Day in, day out, month over month – being aware and constantly discussing what’s not working can kill you.
So celebrate the wins.
Here’s what we’ve developed to aid us:
Instant Reporting: Whenever a customer upgrades, we post a message to our team-wide Hipchat, with a funny message, their name, and the Customer Guru who worked with them. Early on, anyone around would have a mini-celebration, which funny gifs, emoticons, etc. As we’ve grown in volume and it’s no longer a 1-5X daily occurrence, that has tapered off, but it still provides that little bit of dopamine which can make such a difference.
Metrics: Metrics tell you what needs improvement, but it can also report the success of past efforts. When reviewing metrics with your team, try and connect that with the actual initiative, large or small, and the team members responsible for that (doing this is useful for many other reasons as well, of course).
Positive Feedback: Whenever we get any snippet that commends our product – a blog post, a tweet, a customer email – that’s instantly forwarded on to the team. We also collect it in an “Awesome Board” on Trello, so we can review regularly. The dev team is usually awash in what’s wrong or needs improvement, so it’s important to hear that, overall, our platform is making a huge difference in thousands of lives.
Great Customer Experience: Beyond enjoying the product, if any of our external receptors catches a positive note regarding a customer service experience, webinar, or guru call, we forward it on to the whole team, ensuring we commend the person responsible.
Awards: We have a number of awards that rotate among our company week over week. Come up with ones that reflect your own company culture – we’re not telling you ours 🙂
Show and Tell: Our product and marketing teams, every two weeks, shows off to the rest of the company what’s changed, recent initiatives, even little tweaks. We’re still a small (16) tight-knit team, but having a time dedicated to the hard work these men and women have invested pays off.
There are a number of other large or small dopamine delivery tools we implement, but these are the major ones which could be implemented in your venture as well.