9 Ways To Stay Scrappy In Business

8 years, 7 months ago - June 14, 2013
Your company is getting bigger, things are moving more slowly, and it’s taking longer to get things done. It’s a familiar story.

I’ve long admired folks like Blake Irving, the newly minted CEO of GoDaddy, for their ability to scale large organizations and bring an entrepreneurial spirit to their companies (he’s already making improvements with their new Website Builder product).  At a lunch conversation in Silicon Valley one sunny afternoon, Blake and I pondered how to instill the scrappiness of a startup into large organizations like Microsoft or Yahoo!.  These are the most important lessons I still continue to implement at Docstoc, as we’ve taken our company from 2 co-founders to 50 employees.

  1. Commit to a result. If you are a superhero, there is no grey area. If you almostsave the girl from the burning house, you still failed to save her. Being scrappy means committing to a result at all costs, and doing whatever it takes to get that result. There is no reward for checking off a list of menial tasks that you have accomplished. There is only a reward for getting a big, meaningful result.
  2. We can all do more with more. Some of us can even do less with more. The real trick is, can you move mountains without the resources, tools and budgetthat other people have?
  3. Disregard data. A lot of times we get into paralysis by analysis. We spend so much time trying to figure something out, even though there is very little data that can really help us make our decision. In order to stay scrappy, take the little piece of data that helps you make the decision and just move forward; speed is more important than perfection.
  4. Go down one-way streets. You can’t do what everybody else does and expect different meaningful results. The people that break out of the pack are those that are willing to do something meaningfully different than everyone else. If all the cars are coming one way and you are going the other way, you will get dramatically different results.
  5. Negotiate everything. When my dad goes to the drug store, he tries to negotiate the price of his prescription drugs and you know what? Sometimes he gets a discount on them. You will be surprised what you can negotiate down to a lower price when you commit to negotiating everything possible.
  6. Ask for favors. A lot of times the smartest folks feel like we can do this all on our own, and maybe we can— but by asking favors of lots of people, you will get things done more quickly. You may be surprised how much people will be willing to help you.
  7. Exploit your competition’s weakness. If you are playing a game of tennis or basketball, you don’t only play up your own skills, you play your opponent’s weaknesses. You can often beat people much better than you by exploiting the areas they are bad at. It is the same in business. If you have a much bigger target you are competing against, don’t work against your own set of resources, figure out what their Achilles’ heel is and keep attacking it until you chip away at that armor.
  8. Work more. It’s trendy to talk about how you can work less and get more done, but sometimes more is just more. If you work an eight hour day and I work a fourteen hour day, guess what? I’m going to beat you. All things being equal, I will beat you every single time.
  9. You need a sense of urgency. If I told you that somewhere in your office there is a golden ticket, and if you find it in the next hour I’ll give you a million dollars—how much urgency would you feel to find that ticket? And what if I told you if you don’t find it in the next hour you are going to lose your job, your house and your spouse? What kind of sense of urgency would you have around finding that result? That is the same kind of urgency you must have in business.


Text by Forbes

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