Someone asked me what my greatest work achievement was the other day.
I used to have an immediate answer to this. A long time ago, I was Technical Director of a company that built a resource-planning system for training providers. It was very effective, but it was big and complex software and our team worked very hard to keep our customers happy.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get the sales that we needed – partly due to the fact that we were selling to local authorities and they had a very long (over a year) sales cycle. So the company folded, and the assets and part of the team, were bought by another company as a going concern.
So, we went from 15 people to 5, looking after the same number of customers as before. We still had an aggressive development schedule, but fewer developers to meet it.
I had some tough decisions to make. And make them I did. We dropped a ton of complexity in the product, made it much simpler and worked on a cut-down roadmap. The new company limped back into life. Our extremely worried customers had their minds put at ease, even if we didn’t win many new ones. And the team, who had been demoralised and unhappy, rebuilt a great relationship with each other.
So when people ask me, I always say, that’s my greatest achievement in business.
But then I realised the other day that I’ve been running my own company for ten years now. Ten whole years. Given that most small businesses fail within two years, and I’ve never had any formal business training, I think that’s an even better achievement. What do you think?
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