2017 was an extremely exciting year for our team at GetintheLoop. We were fortunate enough to have doubled the size of our team, now at 30 strong. This growth allowed us to triple the number of markets we now serve across Western Canada, but with hyper growth comes change, challenges, and lessons. As we look at kicking off 2018, it’s a great time to reflect on some of the key lessons I learned in 2017 as a “young-ish” CEO.
1. Culture is Everything
I know this sounds cliché but it’s true. Culture can be defined and measured in so many ways, but a big focus for our organization in 2017 was building a group of like-minded individuals that shared the same drive to succeed and passion for our opportunities. Building culture does not come naturally, it’s learned and practised. We dedicated more time towards organized team events (10), including our first 3-day summer getaway, to work on building friendships and aligning goals. We call ourselves “The Wolfpack”, and I strongly believe we are the best place to work and grow your career in technology in Western Canada. If you’re interested, learn more here.
2. Strength in Technology Wins
If you build good products and listen to feedback from your audience, you will create amazing opportunities. We have a clear focus on continuously improving our products based on customer and user feedback. Our focus on technology has helped grow our customer and member bases extensively but more importantly, has opened doors and opportunities we could have only dreamed about 18 months ago. You know what they say – “Build it and they will come…” More on this soon.
3. Leadership is Key – You can’t do it all
As an early-stage startup with seven people in 2015, and 15 in 2016, you can really get your hands dirty and be hands-on day-to-day. Growing our team and adding key leadership across our organization has helped me realize how important your leadership team is to success, and how much you need to let go. I’m not saying this has been easy or has even been fully implemented yet, but our added depth in leadership roles has taught me to let go and focus on great people in the right roles. “Get the best people you can on the bus, then find which seat they belong in” – From a mentor of mine.
4. Leverage Your Investors
Our team has been fortunate enough to grow through investment and revenue growth. It was not until this year that I truly started to realize the value of having strategic investors and leveraging them in every way you can. We have had strategic investors for years, but I didn’t ask them for much. Leverage can mean anything from having them share your stories, advising on partnerships or legal, or in some cases a bit of mental coaching. I am not sure you will meet someone with a better attitude than me, but let’s face it – every day is not all sunshine. Having investors and mentors to lean on for advice, mentorship and coaching have been crucial for me in 2017.
5. Think Big
As an organization, from the most senior members of your team to the youngest bright star, you need to be thinking big and believe in your vision. You don’t make it to the top of the mountain by hoping you make it to the first peak, and this is true in business. We really pushed ourselves this year – challenging our organization to handle many new markets, major cities, large customers, and exciting strategic opportunities. Not all of this has gone perfect, but it’s not supposed to. As I look at our plans for 2018, I want us to be thinking extremely big at every level of the organization. Tyson from our team always says, “You don’t get diamonds without pressure”. If you want to achieve great success you have to ask for it and believe you can make it happen.
Last note: Make quicker decisions. We had many things go right in 2017 and of course, many ideas and opportunities that didn’t work. If I had a crystal ball and could adjust anything in 2017, I would focus on moving quicker, making decisions faster and trusting my gut from the beginning. Whether you’re right or you’re wrong, you are better to try.
I look back at when I first started texting out golf deals and get dizzy thinking about how far our team has taken an “idea”. We are committed to making GetintheLoop the best way for our members to find exclusive offers and experiences at Canada’s favourite brands and local hotspots. To the hundreds of businesses that trust us with helping grow their business, I thank you for your support and for believing in us. I promise we will always listen to your feedback and look to improve the value we can bring to your organization.