Conversations about life & privacy in the digital age

Lessons from Year 1

A few weeks ago we celebrated our first official year in business. It came
and went without much ceremony as we were too busy with our heads down to
reflect. So what are the lessons learned thus far? There have been many – some
learned long ago (only needing to be reminded) while others are recent. Below
is a brief list (in no particular order) which you may identify with and/or
find helpful as you set out on your own journey:

First, make customer service a priority – always. I have come to believe
that a company is measured as much by the quality of the product they create
as the manner in which they deal, interact, and communicate with users when
problems do arise – and they invariably will. Customer service has remained
among the most important elements to SpiderOak and will always remain so
moving forward.

Second, don’t dwell on past mistakes – learn from them instead. Looking
back over the last year, I can point to several issues, oversights, and
miscalculations. And while mistakes are the inevitability of doing business,
constantly thinking and worrying about them can serve to stifle and prevent
growth. Instead, we can promise ourselves to better understand why they
occurred, the decisions that lead up to them, and work on learning from them
in the future.

Third, be patient – don’t rush. I think often of a quote attributed to
Nietzsche: ‘a bird must first learn to crawl then walk – one cannot fly into
flying’. It reminds me how there is a natural course and procedure for growth
and development. And as much as we try, maturation cannot be accomplished with
brute-force; rather, it is a progress and achievement that comes with time and
lessons learned. While it is true that some companies are able to achieve
great financial success within a short period of time, there is much more to
success than monetary greatness.

Fourth, be able to touch your toes. I have always liked and used this
metaphor as a reference for being flexible. As with any journey, there are
many obstacles which are hardly visible from the starting point. Hence, the
ability to adjust, reposition, rethink, and constantly listen remains crucial.
Most of the success stories I have heard over the years are the result of a
company addressing a very different need than initially intended.

Fifth, find a great team. As no one person either possesses every skill
needed nor has enough hours in the day to create a successful venture,
surrounding yourself with the right people becomes the key to success. Whether
lucky or good, we have assembled a wonderful team who express dedication,
interest, and a commitment to making SpiderOak a better product everyday and
around the clock. Perhaps the most important aspect to any team (or
partnership more specifically) is trust; thank you Alan for this great
gift.

Finally, stay true to who you are. I have found it quite easy to get swayed
- being bombarded by opinions and thoughts about what you should or shouldn’t
do and how you should go about doing it. Some of the ideas will be good while
others might sound absurd; as long as you have your compass and strong set of
ideals, you will find the decisions that set you on the right course and,
importantly, have the courage to see them through.

I hope the above are found in interest. As always, please don’t hesitate to
send your thoughts and lessons learned – another good lesson is that we should
all strive to be good students and teachers. In closing, please do have a
wonderful completion to the holiday season, a safe New Years, and best of luck
in all your endeavors in the calendar year marked 2009.

Comments

  1. jb says:

    drat – I was hoping to divine some insight into when sync was coming. :) Best to you in 2009!

  2. Alan Fairless says:

    Real Soon Now(tm) :)

  3. Jeremy Farnes says:

    I can relate to #5 completely. Me and 3 other people run a small business that with the 4 of us combined we have the right combination of people to make things happen. If any one of us disappeared (granted that is a single point failure scenario), we would be in trouble. Hopefully over the years we can bring more on board to spread the workload and expand our capabilities and provide some redundancy. So for us, #5 is one of the most important things for a business to be functional and therefore successful. I consider SpiderOak the 5th person on our team as it provides a service that we would normally have to rely on a person to be doing in the background. Instead, I set up SpiderOak and it does what I need it to do with little maintenance required. Love what software SpiderOak produces and love how you go about doing it. I look forward to many years as one of your clients.