In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about how to act, move and execute faster.

In the startup world, speed is everything. If you don’t execute fast, you’re very likely to fail. However, moving at such a fast pace can be scary to some founders and employees. Which is why it’s important to put in place processes that allow you to execute at a fast pace, otherwise your competition will.

In this episode, Steli and Hiten share their thoughts on why speed is important for startups to succeed, they give examples of big companies that are excellent at executing and much more.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About the topic of today’s episode

00:32 Why this topic was chosen.

01:10 Why startups are special.

02:02 What makes a startup move fast.

02:34 Why you may want to move fast.

03:38 Why you need a sense of urgency.

06:49 Why you need to be hyper-focused and prioritize.

07:03 Why it’s important that your team understands what needs to be prioritized.

07:54 Steli’s thoughts on why moving faster is so important.

08:34 Other factors that could slow down your startup.

3 Key Points:

  • Speed is everything.
  • It’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast that eats the slow.
  • It’s important to figure out what you need to do in your startup to win.


Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.



Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah.



Steli Efti: In today episode of the Startup Chat, we want to talk about how to act, move, and execute faster in your startup. The reason why I want to talk about speed with you Hiten is that recently I saw on your Twitter stream, you had posted out kind of a picture of a frame that had a quote in it that said, “It’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast that eats the slow.” I thought, oh, this is a good topic to talk about, speed.



Hiten Shah: Speed’s everything. I think that I’m excited to talk to you about this too because this is like the [inaudible] in startup’s that I rarely see spoken about. I see everything sort of talking about the execution, what you need to do, and we even talk about how you get from this to that, right? Zero to ten customers, ten to 100, 100 to a million, I don’t know. And like, the people don’t talk about why startups are special. What makes them even like exist? Why do they exist? What makes it so that they need to exist? There’s these big companies out there that should be solving problems for our customers, not startup’s. Like these big companies are designed around, they solve a problem for customers, they have a lot of capital, they have a lot of people, but yet, startup’s still exist and startups come in and they kick the butt of big companies. Not all of them, obviously, but like that’s how they win. It’s important to figure out what you need to do in your startup to win. And win means, win the market, win the customer, et cetera. I think that speed is all you got.



Steli Efti: How, so okay. Let’s talk about speed, right? What makes a startup move fast? What does, you know, if you think about some of the companies in team startup’s, teams that you’ve seen that move the fastest, what stood out as kind of key indicators, or key cultural things that they had that made they move faster than other startup’s? When you see startup’s slow down or move to slow, what’s the main reason? I mean, the one thing … I have a lot of thoughts, but I actually want to hear your thoughts before I throw in my two cents. What do you think make startup’s fast, versus what makes them slow?



Hiten Shah: Sure. Well, let’s define why you want to go fast. Let’s just start there, right?



Steli Efti: Okay.



Hiten Shah: You want to go fast because if you don’t fast, you die.



Steli Efti: Why?



Hiten Shah: I think you run out of money.



Steli Efti: You run out of money.



Hiten Shah: You run out of money.



Steli Efti: Yep.



Hiten Shah: Most startup’s, even if they’re self-funded, they’re some finite, you know, running out of money point, right?



Steli Efti: Yep.



Hiten Shah: In fact, a lot of startup’s that have raised a lot of money, are so patient with themselves, that they run out of money too because they just raise so much money that they have a lot of money, so the money actually creates a lack of urgency. I think for me, you want to go fast because you will run out of money if you don’t figure it out fast. There’s a culture where you have a sense of urgency. That’s what I’m looking for, whether it’s in my own company’s, or when I look at other company’s I’m involved in, or when I just access a company. I’m like, do they have a sense of urgency. That sense of urgency doesn’t just have to be about a small company, like a startup. It can be a big company. I mean, I love using this example, we’ve used it before, but like, Facebook has a sense of urgency. At their size, that’s ridiculous. Google does not seem to have a sense of urgency. Do you know what? Apple, they have a sense of urgency. They have a cadence. They’re giving you a new phone every year, period.



Steli Efti: Every year, yeah.



Hiten Shah: Every year, they’re doing to launch that new phone. Do you know what? Back in the day, that wasn’t the case. Like, a lot of these companies, these phone companies that created the phones, because of carriers, and all this messy stuff, they couldn’t launch a phone every year and like make it a big one, make it a big deal. Apple makes it a big deal, every time, right? There’s a sense of urgency at that company. In fact, when you think about all the innovation that goes into every year’s new phone, whether it’s even the, you know, every two years, they launch a massive upgrade, but every year they’re launching in improvements in existing phone. They’re trying to make your battery life longer, and give you more processing power in your phone, and all the other fantastic stuff, even when it’s like, you know, a middle sort of between big release. That’s not easy. There’s a sense of urgency to doing that. There’s a, I mean they’re buying a bunch of chip manufacturers and then vertically integrating their whole business for a very good reason. That’s a sense of urgency. Their execution makes you feel like the company is on a mission and will do whatever it takes as fast as possible to get there. This company, Apple, at even at their scale, you know, the most valuable company in the world, makes you feel like there’s always going to be something new that’s coming from that company that you need. That’s the sense of urgency that goes all the way to the customer, in that case. In Facebook’s case, they don’t make you feel like that, they just execute like crazy. They have an internal sense of urgency, but they’re not selling the same thing that Apple is. Eventually though, now that they’re doing hardware, maybe they’ll do the same thing. Amazon, oh man does Amazon make you feel like they have a sense of urgency. In fact, it’s built in. Like, they want to get you whatever you order as fast as possible. That again goes back to the customer. What I really admire about Apple and Amazon, in a way where like I think Facebook’s a little different, is that they focus on the customer and they focus on making the customer happier, and the happiest in their category. Nobody else in eCommerce is making you happier on a consistent basis than Amazon is.



Steli Efti: True.



Hiten Shah: That’s sense of urgency of the company dominating that made them come up with things like Prime. It made them come up with things like Alexa. I think that like to me, the sense of urgency is really what you’re aiming for in your company. I gave you a few examples of big companies that are dominating.



Steli Efti: Yeah.



Hiten Shah: It’s not just about little company’s. Honestly, if you’re competing with Amazon, Apple, or Facebook, good luck, because their sense of urgency makes them dominate, and makes it so that even the companies that are competing with those companies have a hard time.



Steli Efti: Incredible. All right. I’ll just throw out my two cents on top of this, right?



Hiten Shah: Please, yeah.



Steli Efti: I think that the two things that to me, still are missing, you can have an incredible sense of urgency, but if you don’t know how to be hyper-focused in prioritizing what is truly important, and what isn’t, you could be working like crazy all day and really not accomplish that much. I think that’s one that goes hand in hand with my second point, which is alignment, right? Making sure that everybody within your team truly understands what the priorities are, and what the things are that truly will matter, and really move the needle, and have like real massive potential for impact, and leverage, verses, what the things are that are nice to have that incremental, and that can wait, right, because they’re not going to make or break the company. If you can’t have incredible alignment so that everybody is going in the same direction, pushing in the same direction, instead of everybody’s going off slightly in a different direction, and pulling in different directions, and if the company’s incredibly good at saying no to lots, and lots things, and say yes to the things that truly matter most, you add those two components with a sense of urgency culture, and you’re crushing it. You’re moving so much faster than anybody else that is not even funny. Moving faster, you know, part of … I was thinking when you said that in the beginning, I was thinking, will somebody ask themselves, why is moving faster important in today’s world? One thing that’s obvious is that you know, anything you do can easily and quickly be copied. The slower you go, the less of an advantage it is anytime you innovate, and you build something. And so, that’s a big one. Also, the world is changing at faster and faster pace, so the slower you change, and the slower you can adapt to the market that’s changing, the more of a risk every day is, where the world is changing all around you. Anything else before we wrap this episode up that comes up as like something that really slows company’s down or something that really helps speed them up?



Hiten Shah: Yeah, I think underneath what you’re saying in reference to the sense of urgency is like, what’s your sense of urgency about? I think it’s about, like you said, doing the right thing. Well, what is the right thing? How do you figure that out? I believe the right thing that matters is whatever’s right for your customer. I’ll go back to my three examples because it’s better to talk about these big company’s then startup’s because if the big companies can do it, I think it’s good. We all know these big companies. Facebook’s sense of urgency towards the customer is making sure that they retain. They acquire and retain more users, more customers, than anybody else. And so, all their moves of like attacking Snap Chat had everything to do with that. Attacking meaning, basically, getting what Snap Chat, which is a time from a certain demographic, and learning everything they could about why Snap Chat is working, by basically putting their core feature stories in every product they have. Before that, actually launching standalone products that had stories built into them. You know, obviously, getting rid of those products because those are not popular. I think that’s a really important key, which is like, what are you being urgent about? What are you going after and how do you prioritize? Facebook prioritizes based on having more and more people spend more and more time on Facebook or their properties. Amazon, I think Amazon already knows that the sense of urgency there is actually the sense of urgency the customer has on when they buy something, how fast they can get it, and to be able to get it to you as fast as possible. They are self-proclaimed. They have customer obsession, completely self-proclaim obsession. Everything they do is oriented around, how do we serve the customer better than anyone else? So, their sense of urgency has to do with that. Apple, I think, I mean, it’s Apple. Like, there’s a huge, huge, vast majority of the population that just loves everything Apple. Even if they don’t love everything Apple, they know everything Apple. You know when Apple when comes out with a new phone, even if you’re an Android lover, basically. I think like that that’s like the key there for Apple, which is the similar type of customer obsession that Amazon has, except they take it to the next level by, you know, over the many years of being in business, built up this desire. This desire from the customer of just wanting what they have, knowing they are the best. I think, you know, you can say, oh Android this, that, or the other, and that’s totally cool, but the majority of the money in the market goes to Apple. I think that those three are all about what are the things that matter for our business, for the what we do to the customer, and how can we make sure that we’re constantly up on that? Our urgency is around getting more of that.



Steli Efti: Beautiful. All right. I think that’s it from us for this episode. We’ll hear you very soon and until then, start moving faster.



Hiten Shah: Please.