Author: UB Ciminieri, Chief Editor at JobberTechTalk.com
Denver Startup Week. One of the largest gatherings of like-minded individuals in the country when it comes to entrepreneurship and business. And also a great time to talk about something that until recently I wasn’t aware could have such an incredible impact on professional pursuits.
Belief is defined as “trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.” Belief comes and goes in my opinion, and can be false or true, acquired or original, based on where we’re at in our lives – grade school vs. college, 20s vs. 40s, employee vs. leader, startup vs. enterprise – and the list goes on. For purposes of this article I want to focus on startup vs. enterprise beliefs.
Let’s start with the story of a young professional who has spent most of their career aimlessly drifting from one company to another. With each new company comes a new opportunity to settle in for the long haul. This employee lights up when hearing about the mission and vision of the leaders. This employee begins to acquire their beliefs that what the company is doing and where it’s going are magnificent! And that’s how it goes for a few months until something starts nagging at the employee.
Maybe it’s the lackluster results of the first quarter. Maybe it’s the negative message being sent at every meeting. More than likely it’s the fact that our employee is being treated like they don’t know what they’re doing even though they were brought in because of their extensive experience and skill-set – that’s what was implied in the interview process.
Now those initial beliefs come into question. Doubt about whether our employee truly ever believed in the company start to surface. And once those doubts creep in, you can’t just ignore them. The company and its leaders are doing nothing to strengthen those beliefs – their communication is erratic, negative or neutral in tone, and handing down nothing but directives. All in all, our employee has already decided to start looking for the next company to believe in.
And that’s how it goes for three or four more opportunities. At this point it truly becomes hard to believe…in anything, even yourself. Now comes the inspirational point of this article – are you ready to believe?
As the title states, based on the famous Journey song, Don’t Stop Believing! I’ve learned in my career that belief in myself must be a constant. Belief in others will come and go, but belief in my goals and dreams must be the guiding light to get me to my destination. That destination is something that’s mine, that I’m helping to build from the ground up with people I’ve chosen to build with and believe in.
Here’s the kicker: you don’t really know that you’ve reached that destination until you’re knee deep in it. And trust me, you’ll know because that belief in yourself will be fortified with a belief that now extends beyond you. How will you know?
You’ll start to tell more and more people about what you’re doing, with so much excitement that you won’t need to memorize an elevator pitch. It will flow out of you as natural as talking. And you and the other founding members of your team will be so excited in meetings that you’ll be taking the mic from each other to tell the story. It won’t matter who you’re talking to in the company – they’ll all be so excited right along with you!
That’s how I knew we were on to something. Even HR gets excited (a little dig but only because I’ve worked with many an HR department). But it wasn’t until month six that I realized what was happening – we were actually onto something and I was a total 100% believer! And so was everyone else on the team.
That last sentence is the key. I didn’t fully realize it but my total belief was dependent on the team’s total belief which in turn was dependent on the belief of our clients and partners, and so on. And that’s why startups succeed, in my opinion.
Where they won’t succeed is without that belief from the core team. Because without the core team believing in what we’re doing, we can’t tell a convincing enough story to get others to join our cause. And if they don’t believe – you get the point.
To boldly go…wait, wrong article (Happy 50th Star Trek!)
But “to boldly go” is a fair statement to use in this case. I believe that it’s hard for companies as they grow to enterprise levels to keep believing in what got them started in the first place. That’s probably an obvious statement to most, but I would argue that many leaders of enterprise companies forget about their original beliefs, or worse, fail to continue communicating those beliefs to new employees as they grow.
Thus you have a growing number of employees who resemble our employee from the story above, and look how that turned out.
In the past I think most larger companies felt like they could churn through employees because they could always find others to replace them. Not anymore. Candidates are running the show now and every company, save a handful like Facebook or Amazon or Google, have to do their best to convince people to come work for them. This is where belief comes back into play.
More and more startups are born every day, and with the advent of the Internet of Things and entrepreneurial mindsets, for example, I see less enterprise and more smaller companies. Which means more belief to build those teams to reach success.
Can existing enterprise companies regain that belief and use it to find the right talent to join their ranks? Yes, I believe they can, if they have that startup belief mentality. My approach would be to treat each discipline within an organization as their own entity, with their own story and set of beliefs that exist within the overall belief system of the company. If you take it in bite size chunks, I believe you’ll have greater success building teams of IT, Support, Sales, Marketing, Ops, Finance, etc. than looking at hiring from an enterprise level.
My final thought is this: humans tend to question the beliefs of others constantly. Just like there are no right or wrong cultures, I don’t believe there are right or wrong beliefs in the business world (except for those few leaders who are only in it for the money no matter the cost). Companies just need to truly believe in what they’re doing and tell that story if they want to find others to join their cause. You can’t expect people to just want to work for you. Denver Startup Week is a great place to find those who share your beliefs, so good hunting this week and here’s to a future of believing!