Mr. Ken Meyers is a longtime Internet software executive involved in making the game-changing Go REACT video coaching and feedback system available to educational and professional organizations everywhere. Meyers is from Connecticut, and holds an undergraduate degree in communications and a Masters in Business Administration from Brigham Young University. Meyers has decades of experience as President or Chief Executive Officer with numerous startups including CrimeReports.com, AdvancedMD, Superstats.com, and numerous others. He will join a startup with only 8 to 15 employees and navigate the high growth scaling the organization needs to support its future growth. Meyer’s efforts lead to phenomenal growth for these startups for achieving profitable operations and employing roughly 80 to 100 employees. Today Meyers is the founder and Chief Executive Officer for Speak Works, managing more than a half a million in annual revenues. Meyers is actively working to make its REACT software available as widely as possible with educational and professional organizations.
As seen with numerous Internet software providers, it wasn’t easy to survive during the 2002 dot com bubble. But for Meyers, he has pulled it off and continued to successfully manage numerous startups. So this morning I had a chance to speak with him regarding his success. Here is what he had to say:
How do you assess a company’s ability to succeed?
The first thing is conducting adequate market research to determine whether your system can in fact succeed. Figure out what the market potential is for your system, in this stage of your analysis you must have at least a 50% hit rate. Second, validate that your system will solve a problem that others are willing to pay for. To do this, quantify a process whereby you can test your solution with the market’s willingness to pay. It is essential that you are brutally honest with yourself along each step of the way. If your solution isn’t one that people will pay for then go back and formulate a solution that others will pay for. Lastly, when implementing the process for commercializing your solution, work toward implementing the ideas of lean startup. “Nail it and Scale it” by Nathan Furr along with “The Four Steps to the Epiphany” by Steve Blank are great books for any entrepreneur to managing breakthrough innovation.
Each step in process is very important because as a startup you will almost never have sufficient money to gain traction for your business. The market research you conduct before attempting to commercialize your business is what will allow your company to gain traction, and law a foundation for the future growth of your company.
What are the top 5 lessons you have learned in business?
The number one thing is to truly listen to your market. It is so easy to get bona fide validation that you know what your market wants. But you must know and have reason that supports your validation. People will often say you have a great idea, but at the end of the day it is all about whether someone else is willing to pay money for your idea. If no one is willing to pay money, then all else fails. You must develop the ability to understand and to listen to your market. You must know whether there is even a market for what you are doing.
Second, I would tell a startup to not raise money until they know exactly what to do with it. This takes discipline especially when you are first staring into business. Otherwise you end up raising money, you don’t know what to do with it and so you just waste it. Know what you will use the money on before you receive it. Understand your market and what you need to grow your company to satisfy those market needs.
Third, do not get too hooked up on the valuation of your company. If you can find the right funding partner, then make it work for both sides. When you have a product or service the market demands, the valuation of your company is immaterial.
Fourth, see to it that your company doesn’t grow too fast too early. Don’t higher a full time person for a part time job. At the early stages of a company employees will inherently wear a lot of hats. They will feel overwhelmed by their job responsibilities, but don’t consume overhead you can’t sustain. Otherwise, as the CEO you end up making too many obligations too fast that ends up destroying the company. You will hire a full time person because you need help, and subsequently lay them off because you can’t keep them busy. Before making decisions, analyzing your budget, determine whether you can afford certain overhead or salaries before you make the obligation to incur the cost.
Fifth, understand the stage your business is in and be adaptive to changing your marketing approach. Early on in the life of a company they will depend on door knocking and cold calling contacts for business. However, too often I see companies that rely on that type of revenue source for too long. Entrepreneurs need to learn how to make the transition to generating business from its warm leads and harvest the leads they already have. Work with your current customer base to generate more business and more leads, structure the marketing process so you don’t have to constantly go out and beg for business. One factor to achieving this is going slow enough to understand the market and laying a sufficient foundation that will allow your company to get off the ground and sustain exponential growth.