I have studied great companies and this is my summary: the only common thing in all of them is GREAT Product and the obvious universal description of the jobs of the leaders that run these firms is Execute for company success. Great Products and Execution are entwined; the two are mutually inclusive, and cannot happen independently.
When you execute, you enable growth. Growth fixes all problems. Growth makes you a good presenter before the Board. Growth makes your grammar to become flawless. Growth brings respect as you stand before the investors. Growth makes legends. When you grow, you are moving. It means you have momentum. The bigger your size, and the rate of that growth, the more is the momentum [In Physics, momentum = mass x velocity; velocity is speed with direction].
Great Products + Execution = Sustained Growth
In Africa, I have learnt that big press release rarely moves growth. Growth is not a one-time event. That is where it becomes challenging. Yes, you have built the product, ran some press releases and now you are waiting for sales to take-off. Nothing happens. You have paid Google and Facebook for adverts, waiting for the bank accounts to respond, nothing happens. This part of the world is different; you cannot hack growth as they do in America because hacking the pockets of Nigerians is tough.
The best approach to growth in Nigeria is to have a sustained effort where the CEO and the business leaders are constant messengers, reminding partners and customers why their products should help them in fixing their frictions. To make that happen, you cannot really hide irrespective of the quality of your sales and marketing team. There are people that would not sign contracts with your company in Nigeria until they see the founder or CEO. Simply, they do not believe anybody but the leader.
The role of the Chief Product Officer has become popular over the last few years, especially in technology-enabled startups. Few people can hold this title and fewer people should even be responsible for the duties. In the time of change, and organisation continuity redesign, founders are the best positioned to lead product development and evolution.
Founders bring vision, authority and trust necessary to change things when they are necessary. In this video, I explain why the best chief product officers are founders and if a founder cannot do that job, the startup should simply close the door.
In the digital space, the effervescence is huge – many people start digital startups. But within years, they are gone as they cannot renew their domain and hosting after one year. They had modeled the whole thing wrongly, thinking that starting a website and running some adverts would bring so much glory. It does not happen that way. In a nation where there is limited disposable income, it is a battle to get revenue! You have to make a real case to have a chance.
So, at the end, it comes down to Great Products and how you Execute them as you pursue that noble cause of margins. If you manage them well, you would have Sustained Growth.
*I have updated this equation to Great Products + Execution = Great Company. Largely, Sustained Growth delivers a Great Company