April 18, 2011

Does Your Business Flow Like Water?

I am a big fan of Buddhist principles and meditation practices. Buddhists are empathetic, peaceful, mindful and very aware of their surroundings. They rarely, if ever, engage in violent encounters, and if faced with such a dire situation, follow the principle of flowing like water around the problem. Water fills the container its in – it adapts dynamically to its environment, and can be extremely powerful when combined and used in the right way.

Businesses around the world can learn a lot from Zen principles. The way I run mine follows a lot of these principles. The benefits are quite remarkable – happier clients, happier employees, less frustration, less worries. We focus on what we love, and adapt to changes in the market at an extremely fast pace. We are agile and dynamic. Profit, although important, is definitely not a top priority – although it does seem to come naturally if you focus on adapting to the ever-changing needs of your market. How have I applied these techniques in the day to day running of my tech business? There are a few simple tactics:

  1. Work with problems, not against them. Businesses are fraught with problems and issues that arise on a daily basis. You can either be bogged down by the frustration of these problems, or flow around them while at the same time eroding them to nothingness.
  2. Have each person work with their own rhythm. I trust my staff incredibly. I give them a lot of leeway into what they can work on, and when. Each person works at their own time and pace. Above all, I make sure I fully understand their strengths and weaknesses with respect to each other, and delegate the appropriate tasks to maximize their internal happiness while increasing business efficiency.
  3. Flow with your competitors, not against them. We are all incredibly interconnected and interdependant. Even your competitors can become partners, given the right mindset. We are all in business to create a better world for everybody, and that’s why I don’t see my competition as threats, but rather as synergistic opportunities for us to work together and make our offerings even better.
  4. The only guarantee in life is change. People, for some reason, hate change. Perhaps because they are scared of it. My company embraces it. Literally every day grows the business and changes it in some small way to better fit in with the ever-changing market. We embrace new potential ideas just as quickly as we let go of stale ones. We keep ourselves light on our toes, and never stop thinking.
  5. Remain mindful. We don’t live in the past, analyzing all the statistics and resources there may be. We don’t live in the future, dreaming of what could be and eternally planning. We live and work in the present moment, knowing exactly what we need to do and how we need to do it. We have goals and business milestones that we work towards, but these are soft targets, since generally they change all the time. I have always laughed at young tech companies presenting 5 year targets on where they believe they will be. I know where my business is going, and am confident we are working at maximum capacity to get there. All that matters is tweaking the present moment to be absolutely time and resource efficient.

What I have done with 3 other people, some Silicon Valley startups need millions of dollars of funding for. Although running a tech startup is extremely difficult, there are some great, simple ways to streamline business processes and grow the business synergistically. The key is to flow like water ;)

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  1. Grinch April 19, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Nice to see that you’re also in the HN community Mike.

  2. Mike April 19, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Thanks :) I would love to see a more HN-like culture created in SA – I suppose the S.C. is the first step towards this.

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