Johnson Cook

Energized. Seeking perpetual inspiration as entrepreneurial fuel.

Johnson Cook - Energized. Seeking perpetual inspiration as entrepreneurial fuel.

Your One Thing that Closes Deals

 

This may be simplistic, but hang with me.  There is only one thing that closes deals for your team: Activities.   Duh, right? But wait…

No matter what you sell, how you sell it, or who you are: there are activities that lead to closed deals.  How you measure and track these activities is up to you. But the companies that have the most predictable, controlled, and successful sales processes track activities with aggressive precision.  If you are great at inbound marketing, activities might be web site visits, trial sign-ups, engagement, usage, or shares.   If you are dialing-for-dollars and working deals to the close, activities are calls, emails, Tweets, demos, meetings, follow-ups, and check-ins.   If you’re selling enterprise deals that are giant and slow, you have meetings, proposals, meetings, contracts, meetings, and meetings.

No matter what you sell, there is some fundamental building block of a deal that you can measure. Are you measuring it?

I didn’t mean this to become a sales pitch post, but I can’t help myself. We believe Voxa is built to help any size organization collect and track the activities that lead to success.

 

Startup Problems

I’m not different from most entrepreneurs in that I have the patience equivalent to that of gravity.   (E.g. If something has to come down, it may as well come down right now.)   We see where we want to be and when we decide we want to be there, we are immediately uncomfortable not being there.

In Startup Life, you set out to build a company. Maybe for the first 2 weeks you are excited to “do” a startup. But for those who have been down the path before, you know what the company looks like and it does not look like a startup.

As our Team at Voxa is starting to find our groove— deals are closing, issues are happening and being fixed, recruiting is going— all of these things are making it start to look more like a company and less like a startup.

But with all that patience we talked about before, we start to immediately think about ourselves as a company… and when we do that, a funny thing happens.    All of the things that are normal checklist items for a startup to get done to become a company, all of a sudden can feel like problems.

Problems everywhere!  Our offer letter sucks, that’s a problem.   We don’t have enough MRR to do X: problem.   Our product only has 20% of the capabilities that we want it to have: problem.    Our engineering team is too small: problem.

But in reality, these aren’t problems, they are just things to do.   At the end of the day sometimes, I walk out of the Village thinking “Oh crap, we have a company with tons of problems.”  But honestly, every thing that we see is a problem, isn’t something that fell apart because we haven’t been paying attention, it’s just something that we haven’t gotten to… yet.

It is excruciatingly difficult to step back, remember the big picture, and slow down the analysis. But when you do, you’ll remember who you really are, how impressive it is what you’ve accomplished already, and how to enjoy the fact that you have so many opportunities every day to shape what will become a great organization.   Just keep moving. Each day, get something important done.

Rogue Sales Reps

 

Going Rogue. Get it?

Going Rogue. Get it?

In Voxa sales pitches with large companies, there is a common feedback that we hear at almost every meeting. It goes something like this:

“…Getting all of our customer conversations in Salesforce.com would be great… but there are some reps who just don’t like using Salesforce and they just never will….    They are doing great and they have their own way of doing things and nobody will ever tell them otherwise.”

We chuckle at this feedback.  I often wonder if the sales leaders can hear what they are saying as they say it. Maybe I’m missing something.   I agree that a rockstar producer should be given more flexibility perhaps, but making excuses about why they don’t share information about customer conversations in your CRM seems like a stretch.

In sales, (yes, even large, complex enterprise deals that take years to nurture and caress to a close) companies benefit from predictability. Process leads to predictability.   Data is needed for a process to work.  You can’t know if you’re in step 3 or step 13 without data.  And yes, everything is a process. Even the softer side of caressing C-suite executives on the golf course, over cigars, or on a private jet to shoot birds in South America (you know who you are! #jealous)… it’s all a process that is leading to the same thing. A signature that means money will find it’s way to your company and your services will add value to a customer.

Even the big deals should be tracked. Everything should be tracked! What happens if your top producer is taken out by Dick Cheney on one of these hunting trips?   Where will you find the status of the conversation with the countless contacts at the organizations they are working? Are you going to power through their years of emails and decipher who goes what and what goes where?

With the growth and expanding importance of CRM software to companies, I stand by Voxa’s position that

every 

single

tiny

piece of information about customers that you can track 

should live forever in the CRM!!

Forever and ever, amen!

 

 

 

 

CRM is so Much More than an Acronym… and Software

 

salesforce-logo-635As we grow Voxa and complete customer, recruiting, and investor pitches, one of the points we like to include is the massive size of the CRM market.   At around $20B in 2013, and expected to be at $36B by 2017  the coolest part is that it is expected to surpass the size of the ERP market.   15 years ago, when I was earning my undergrad degree in Management at Georgia Tech, we were taught that ERP platforms (specifically SAP at the time) was the end of the world in software. It is everything a company will ever need today, tomorrow, and forever. It can do anything and everything.

It’s fascinating to think about the paradigm shift that comes with just thinking about the most important software in a business with a different three letters. Instead of our most important software being “Enterprise Resource Planning” it is now “Customer Relationship Management.”

In the age of agilecustomer discoverybusiness model canvases, lean startup, and lean enterprise  businesses now see the customer as the center of attention. Not our own resources. Not our own planning. The customer needs are most important. Centralizing the information about interactions and data about our customers now trumps what we think we need to do for ourselves.

I think we are just at the beginning of what CRM can do for businesses.

I heard one entrepreneur propose recently that CRM is now where email was in 1990 as far as the impact it will have on how we do business.   I’m excited to be a part of it with Team Voxa, and we are powering through the forefront of getting all the juicy data into the CRM so it can reach the potential companies expect!

 

Relocating and Re-Centering

 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, so it’s time to get back on the wagon!   No, I didn’t make an intentional decision to stop blogging. It started with some travel, then being down with a cold (or something), then more travel, then some more travel, and then life just accelerated over my rhythm and cadence. No good, and it’s time to get re-centered.

The first big change in life that I feel obligated to share is that the downtown connector will soon have one less vehicle on it. The Cook family is moving ITP!    It was a difficult decision for us, because as I’ve bragged about many times, life in The Bubble of Peachtree City is a magical place to raise a family.  But as one of my long time mentors says: “Time is not a limiting factor. You are the limiting factor.”

The bottom line is that investing the 2+ hours/day in the car to transition between my Voxa Family and my Life Family was more than I can continue to support.   My family will now be a mere 4 miles from the Village and lots of exciting new opportunities will come with that geographically aligned life.

In addition to that big change, I’ve noticed that with Voxa’s growth accelerating, so has my attention and focus followed. I’ve gone against the advice I’ve given to so many startup entrepreneurs.   Keep your balance.  Don’t be consumed so deeply that you stop reading, writing, and exercising.

Effective growth and success comes from perspective, creativity, and positive energy.  Focusing from the time you wake up until you hit your pillow only on one thing without taking a breath once in a while will work against your intended motion.  Eventually you will run out of steam.

I’m looking forward to the next chapter of our lives and will work hard to keep the rhythm of reading, writing, and exercising as I locate the new center.  Time for JC to slow down to go faster.

 

Three Sins of Sales Management

Jack Daly SalesI just started Jack Daly’s book, Hyper Sales Growth , and as expected, it is solid.  Jack is the best speaker I have ever heard. I’ve probably heard him talk 4 times and every time it is powerful. His book flows like his talks, (although it’s not quite the same without all the screaming, profanity, and sweat flying as he jumps around on stage).

Jack opens the book with what I believe is the biggest thing I learned from his very first talk. The three sins of sales management that entrepreneurs make.

If you want to grow your business, you need to invest in your sales team. Duh! And to grow a sales team, you need the right sales leader.  The right sales leader can be the key to your success or the cause of your mediocrity.    Too many CEOs handle the sales management role the wrong way.

Sin #1. The CEO is the sales manager.   In this scenario, you are saying that the company only needs a part time CEO and a part time sales manager. Some of the time you will set the vision and some of the time you will be the sales manager (recruiting, coaching, training).   You can’t be both CEO and Sales manager. They are two very different jobs.

Sin #2. You promote the top sales guy to be the sales manager. In a live seminar, Jack would say something like this: “You dumb shits! You just lost your best sales person and now have a crappy sales manager.”   Selling and sales management are not the same skill set. It’s not the same personality.

Sin #3. Even worse, you promote the top sales guy to be the sales manager AND you expect him to keep selling!  Once again, Jack would let you have it for this one.   Now you have a person in your company who has the job of training the team, but is compensated for only selling their own deals.  Fail on fail.

Jack Daly is phenomenal. As it turns out, Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) in Atlanta is bringing Jack to speak at a one day sales expo. Thursday October 2 in Buckhead at the Intercontinental Hotel.  Mark your calendar.

In the meantime, if you are committing one of these sins of sales management, you better get right before Jack comes to town!

Predicting Your Crazy: Profile Your Team. DISC Profiles are Mandatory for Startup CEOs

 

“God is great. Beer is good, and people are crazy.” – Billy Currington

This is one of the best country song lyrics of all time.
As it turns out though, that people are crazy in entirely predictable ways.

A Pretty Typical Entrepreneur's DISC Profile

A Pretty Typical Entrepreneur’s DISC Profile

Early as an entrepreneur, I had a lot of exposure to personality profile systems and tools, but I never dove in.   I had an exec on my team who convinced me not to use them because he “can make the test say whatever he wants me to think is his personality style.”    That was pretty logical so I caved and we never implemented it. The part I missed is that if you want to skew the test, then the team learns about your results is helpful too! (Faked results can be even more helpful depending on some of the controls in the profiling system you use.)

My personal favorite profiles are DISC and HBDI. I’ve found DISC the most helpful in day-to-day thinking.   My own DISC profile is above, which anyone who knows me, won’t be surprised to see. I am a high “D” and high “I.” Until the last couple of years, I was a higher “I,” but lately my “D” has been coming up, so watch out, because I’m now pegged at 99, the highest possible score. :)   Also notice that extremely low “S” … meaning my preferences toward stability are pretty darn low. I love change, obviously.

DISC is helpful as an entrepreneur because you learn how people are wired to communicate. This isn’t pigeonholing anyone and you don’t make any important decisions based solely on a personality profile.  However, with a good DISC profile for your team, you will learn generally how each team member…

  • … prefers to communicate with you.
  • … prefers to communicate with each other.
  • … handles conflict.
  • … manages stress.
  • … likes to work (heads down vs. collaborative).
  • … learns the best (reading, writing, doing, talking, etc.).
  • … is best motivated.
  • … will behave in social settings.
  • … makes decisions and evaluates options.
  • … evaluates risk in their own life.

So many problems can be avoided and strengths can be leveraged when you have a solid understanding of personality profiles and each team member.

If this is new to you, here is a quick DISC 101:

  • High D’s. Decisive.  Think Donald Trump.      Characteristics:   Forceful, dariing, determined, competitive, driving.
  • High I’s. Interactive. Think Jim Carrey.  Characteristics: Persuasive, inspiring, enthusiastic, sociable.
  • High S’s. Stabilizing. Think Mother Teresa or Mr. Rogers.   Characteristics: Predictable, passive, complacent, stable.
  • High C’s. Cautious.  Think Joe Friday (“Just the Facts, Ma’am”).   Characteristics:  Perfectionist, systematic, careful, analytical.

As a CEO, I want my team to know my profile as well.  It helps them be prepared for my strong opinions and high-energy communication styles.

For core startup teams, it is imperative to have some of each style on your team. It is healthy and gives your team a higher likelihood of surviving the long haul when scaling changes the dynamics of growing your company.

  • D’s – generally the D’s will be the CEO and occasionally will be in a sales role. Make decisions quickly and act with “no fear” in more settings than the other profiles.
  • I’s – lots of I’s go into sales, but also do great in marketing. Great story tellers, actors, and persuaders.
  • S’s – this is your GM or COO. The checklist oriented glue that keeps the rest of the knuckleheads together. The chief rhythm officer to keep the cadence. The guy or gal who takes the plan seriously and has to be convinced if the CEO get’s a crazy idea to go “off plan.” (Ahem, ahem, which is hourly on most teams.)  My saying is this: “To an S, EVERYTHING is a big deal!”
  • C’s – You want the C’s managing the books and writing the code!  These are two things that need to be done with a perfectionist at the helm.
DISC Profiles on every desk in Dave Ramsey's building.

DISC Profiles on every desk in Dave Ramsey’s building.

Last fall I toured Dave Ramsey’s building in Nashville with my EO Forum. They have 300+ employees in the building and run an impressive operation. I was blown away to see that each team member (executive to admin) posts their DISC profile on their door or their desk as a reminder to anyone communicating with them “here is how I like to communicate.”  See pic here.  It was awesome to see that the HR folks were all high S’s and C’s while sales and marketing were the D’s and I’s.

Once you learn the DISC profiles, you will find that this knowledge finds it’s way into your day multiple times, every single day.   You will learn how to plan your communication strategies better and people all of a sudden start to make a whole lot more sense.

 

Resource Note: The free DISC Profile available on Tony Robbins site is, hands down the best free tool out there.

Bonus note:  If you lead a sales team, I highly recommend finding a trainer such as Jim Ryerson with Sales Octane to come in and help your front-line reps learn how to use DISC to communicate with their prospects and customers.   Communicating with the right style to the right person at the right time is a skill that can be learned and DISC provides the fundamentals of what they need to know.

Exciting News – Voxa is Joining ATDC Select – Here’s Why

 

Voxa joins ATDC SelectOver the past month, Team Voxa has been working to apply, pitch, and be reviewed for admission into the ATDC Select program.   Yesterday, we received news that we have been accepted and we are now members of ATDC Select. Score!

As I’ve told folks about our desire to be in ATDC Select, I’m not surprised but a little disappointed that this is the common response:

“Why would you join ATDC? Aren’t you in the Village?”

This tells me that there are lot of things about startup ecosystems that aren’t clicking for folks in Atlanta. Hopefully the story of Voxa and the other Village startups that are ATDC Select members will influence a refactoring of our paradigm around startup incubators. (Damn that sounded fancy… I’ve been hanging around Dr. Halaschek too much!)

First, here are the reasons specially Voxa is joining ATDC Select.

  • Reason #1: Connectivity to university research.   As we build out the Voxa product to connect Email to Salesforce.com, we will be incorporating a ton of cool technologies related to Natural Language Processing. This is a really cool field, and a good bit of research is happening at Georgia Tech.
  • Reason #2: Connectivity to the student body for special recruiting opportunities. While the Village has great Startup Student Connections, nothing can beat having on-campus events specifically for CS and CompE students at Georgia Tech.   Craig Hyde at Rigor was the first to tell me that these events are tremendously valuable for recruiting smart engineers who can talk and are excited about joining a startup.
  • Reason #3: Having a rockstar Entrepreneur in Residence on our team.   I know a lot of the EIR’s at ATDC and they are all fantastic, but when you meet Tim Sheehan, you will agree that he is an amazing asset for any company.  His resume is pack full of big names, west coast startups (both B2B and B2C), and all the right connections.  Having Tim on our team is worth 20x the price of admission to ATDC Select program. (KP, don’t get any ideas on us!)

Some more thoughts about ecosystem and hubs like the Village and ATDC.

  1. Success is often about surface area for a startup.   Connections make things happen faster. Connections to investors, customers, talent. Connected entrepreneurs have easier times building companies than entrepreneurs who live on islands.  Joining multiple organizations, each with their own networks, increases a startups connections and increases the chance of serendipitous interactions that change your trajectory.
  2. The two hardest parts for us are product and sales.    It just so happens that we get a ton of great sales ideas, strategies, tips, and tools from our fellow Villagers.   ATDC on the other hand will likely be more valuable to our CTO and team of engineers as we grow.
  3. It’s NOT about coworking / office space!   KP Reddy used this quote when we first started talking about collaboration between the Village at ATDC: “The only metric that I’m not measured on for success is: Amount of office space rented.”
    Exactly right!  Despite our local business media’s obsession with commercial real-estate, (especially related to tech incubators for some strange reason)… none of the folks doing coworking and incubators with the right intentions give a rip about the square feet as a measure of ultimate success. The square feet need to be paid for to be sustainable, and it’s great to have folks close to each other doing similar things, but that’s as far as it goes.

I’m looking forward to Team Voxa participating in the ATDC Select community.

Nail Your Business Model or Nothing Else Matters

 

EndOfRunway

 

 

One of my biggest hard lessons learned over my entrepreneurial journey has been the importance of having a clear, focused, and simple business model.  We’ve all been impressed with the successes coming out of Flashpoint at Georgia Tech, and I believe this is exactly why. Flashpoint puts startups through the “pressure cooker of customer discovery” and forces them to power through hundreds of customer interviews in order to build out the Business Model Canvas.

In my first company, we chased our business model for years.  We had some good proprietary technology, so we had some product components. But we also offered services. We integrated the pricing and billing because we wanted to win the deals. We won some customers on variable pricing and some on fixed pricing. We did win the deals because of this, and we did make some money, but it was always hard to see the path to greatness and giant success because we had so many different options ahead of us. We could double down on services, hourly billing, fixed margins and really add bodies and billable hours. Or we could ramp up R&D and accelerate the product side, hire a ton of sales and go down the SaaS path. Choices, choices.

Having too many options can be a bad thing for startups. When I meet with early-stage entrepreneurs, often doing their first startup, I start to see problems immediately when they have to describe (or worse, draw a chart) showing “How We Make Money.

When you’re starting up, you have the world against you. You have a boulder the size of a dump truck that you and you alone have to push up Stone Mountain.  You have so many things to figure out, you can’t afford to be be figuring out a new business model for long.

Be innovative on your product or your service. Be cutting edge and invent a new widget that the world has never seen, but don’t try to do it on a business model. Either sell a product, sell an ad, or sell a service.  Ripoff and duplicate a success story in your space.  Copy a business model exactly.  (Side note: unless you are a black-belt entrepreneur with good funding or know a specific space really well, I’d advise against any business model that is two-sided.)

When the airplane starts accelerating down the runway headed for trees is no time to figure out which direction you want to go. You pick the direction and accelerate, and get your ass airborne fast, or it will be a short trip.

 

 

 

Startup Steak and Startup Sizzle

 

Tell me your mouth Isn't watering right now.

Tell me your mouth Isn’t watering right now.

Let’s talk about Ruth’s Chris steaks.

When I think about RC, the first thing I think of is that awesome smell of butter melting on steaks when you walk into the room. It hits you in the face and is so deliciously intoxicating.

Then when the server describes to you all the features of the steak you’re about to order: where it’s from, how it’s prepared, etc, they tell you that it will arrive at your table sizzling on a 4000 degree hot plate (or whatever) covered in garlic butter.

Then when you finally get to cut into that first bite, it’s pretty much, absolutely, spot on perfect.

Every time.

I’ve never had an RC steak less than perfect.

At Voxa right now, all day long we are talking about, debating, and wrestling with our product’s steak vs. its sizzle.  No, it’s not because we have Ruth’s Chris every day for lunch… although, if any investors out there want to offer, perhaps it could become a company benefit.

It’s because every startup product has some steak and some sizzle.

Our steak is what people really buy. This is what they need. This is the point. It’s why they come to our restaurant.  If the actual steak at RC didn’t taste perfect every time then the sizzle would be a sham. It would be wasted effort, and probably would eventually cause folks to associate that smell with a bad steak. Pavlov Steak.  (Maybe I only like the sizzle because I’ve been trained Pavlov style to know that a good steak is coming.)

Startups and high-energy entrepreneurs love to talk about the sizzle. We love to promote it. Demos are best with sizzle.  Sales guys especially love to talk about features that cause the buyer to have a “Wow” reaction.

The steak at Voxa is pretty unsexy. We simply make Email to Salesforce.com work. Really work. Like bulletproof, brilliant, and automagic.  We take a really simple, annoying task and make it go away. That’s the steak. It’s a darn good steak (near perfect, I dare say), and our prospects are talking to us and buying from us because of this steak.

But….! We also have this delicious sizzle. Ahhh, the buttery delight of Natural Language Processing (NLP) for emails. The spice of automatically reading email and magically interpreting actions to do even more than just log the email in Salesforce, we will do everything else that needs to happen in Salesforce.

(Example: If today I say these words in an email to you “Voxa could be a fit” … my Voxa App has been told to interpret that to mean you are a lead for our sales team, and you will be automatically added as a Lead in my Salesforce.com account and assigned to a sales rep and probably called very soon. :)  I never had to even login to Salesforce for all this to happen, I just sent you the email and said the words.)

We are building this sizzle now, and it’s the most fun to build, admittedly. But when we sit down each week at our sprint review and evaluate priorities and the time allocation for the week, we (so far) have landed on the decision to keep the steak first priority and keep making it a better steak. Since we are so young we spend only a fraction of our limited engineering resources on the sizzle features.  Hopefully, this percentage of time will go up as we add engineering resources.

For my startup friends dealing with this: One day you will have it all, and it will all work together in clean harmony. Sizzle adding value to your steak.  You’ll get there, but having the discipline to prioritize the steak first is an important lesson that doesn’t come easy.

 

 

Are You Having Fun?

 

Last week I was talking to one of our Voxa team members about how we’re doing as a team.   We now have 7 full-time and with some extra hands helping out part time, it’s a very early-stage team of 9 high-energy Voxans.  It was a good dialog around finding the best role for everyone on the team and how and where each person adds value specifically. He wanted to be sure he was performing up to par.  Knowing how you’re doing can be tricky when the roles are so early and not yet clearly defined.  Of course I assured him that he’s doing a fantastic job and then it occurred to me to ask him a very important question:

“Are you having fun?”

At the time, that question even caught me a little off guard. In all my years leading small teams, I have asked many questions. Questions like:

  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how are you feeling this week about the company?
  • Are you satisfied with your job here?
  • Would you recommend to your best friend get a job here?

But for some reason, I have never thought to ask “Are you having fun?”

I’m not sure why I’ve never asked that question. Perhaps because work isn’t about having fun, it’s about making money, getting s**t done, making a mark. But isn’t doing something meaningful supposed to be fun? Isn’t pushing yourself to be better and to make a mark supposed to be FUN? If it’s not fun, then isn’t there something else you can be doing?

This question has been hanging in my mind since last week and I will continue to think about it. Even when it’s hard as hell, when we lose deals, when people quit, when competitors win… looking back, it should still be fun… I think. Don’t you?

Our parents never came home from work and answered the “How was your day at the office” question with “It was FUN!”   And looking at my own routine, I probably don’t say that enough either.  But as I sit here writing in the clear-thought and positivity of the morning with an objective outlook on the day, I’m wondering if I should start focusing more on the fact that what I do is a ton of fun.   What if my kids can grow up hearing me say repeatedly that when I was away from them, I was having fun.

Why not? What’s the downside?   If you look at the construction of success, I hardly think you would find that fun is a detractor.  Winning customers is fun. A productive team is fun. A hard day of meetings is even fun.    The challenge of a hard competitive battle over a big deal is fun… even when you lose (sometimes).

This is an energy boosting topic for me and I hope it will be for you as well. Ask your team if they are having fun and try to evaluate your day and verbalize to others that you’re having fun.   Who knows— maybe if you say it often enough, the next hard day that comes along won’t feel quite as hard and you might even squeeze out a grin.

 

Inside the Mind of B2C VCs – What B2B Startups can Learn from B2C Investors

 

b2b_b2cThere is an interesting dialog in Atlanta right now around the lack of B2C startups and successful tech companies. My only comment on the dialog itself is that I wish it could stay positive and not come across so negative from a few folks. It’s really great topic with powerful ideas around how to make change.

In parallel to those Atlanta conversations, as follow-up to the Bay Area trip with Kasim Reed, I’ve had the opportunity to chat at length with VCs who do very well investing in consumer startups. Also, I’ve learned a great deal by helping our Atlanta Ventures Accelerator company, YikYak negotiate investments from B2C focused VC’s from Silicon Valley.  I’ve learned that the way the B2C crowd thinks about growing startups is completely foreign to me, and learning how they think has opened my eyes to some valuable points for my own B2B startup, Voxa, and can help others as well.

It’s easy to sit atop the imagined ivory tour of Enterprise SaaS startups that can generate substantial revenue very early and proclaim that businesses without revenue models don’t make any logical sense and aren’t sustainable… but… B2C startups benefit from a clear, undeniable, singular focus that often times it is hard for B2B folks to achieve. B2C startups must be 10000% completely focused on building the best product, period.

Build the best product, or die.

One of the investors in SnapChat, Facebook, and Twitter told me that they tell their portfolio entrepreneurs over and over to stop thinking about monetization. They tell them that monetization will be figured out in 3-5 years at the earliest. Instead, focus on the user experience. Focus on building a product that has tremendous value. Live inside the head of your users. Be a user!  Use the app yourself constantly. Always be thinking what you can do to make it more useful for yourself.  It’s very simple what to do.

In the B2B world (and I can already see this happening in Voxa), it can be easy to get distracted with the other challenges of building a sales oriented business.   You have to put a ton of effort and energy into your customer acquisition machine. If you do this before the product is fully ready, you will have issues.   If you have success with your sales efforts, but have a product that hasn’t been fully proven to add sustainable value, you can be falling into traps you set for yourself. While it’s important to find the balance between sales and product, remember that when you put your “product hat” on to think like a B2C startup.

Think about what features and improvements make the product the best to *use*. 

In any startup, you will always be prioritizing your product roadmap. As you get users, you will add more desired features. Some of these features make the product easier to use, while others may be growth hack features. Features that are intended to make the product more far reaching perhaps shouldn’t be prioritized over features that make the product 10x more valuable to the current user base.

It’s all a balancing act. Everything is a compromise.  Remember to give both sides of the equation intense and intentional attention.

I look forward to learning more from B2C startups as Michael Tavani becomes successful in bringing a boat load of energy towards more B2C in Atlanta. Way to go Michael!