Another year draws to a close and as we don our Christmas jumpers and plunge into a fortnight of well-earned indulgence, it’s important we take a moment to review the year gone by.
Come January, according to companies house search, Kluster will be nearly three! My how time has flown. Yet in this our formative year, we’ve gotten through – and have been through – an awful lot.
For anyone in our position, a few steps ahead, about to embark on their own venture, or who are simply trying to get a moment away from the chaos that is family during this festive season, here I try my best to summarise our experience of year three in tech business ownership.
Love them or hate them, awards and programmes are a major boost to the credibility young businesses like ourselves work so hard to realise. 2018 saw us win Best Sales Tech Innovation, embark on the PWC Scale AI programme and establish our technology as a major contender by becoming a Salesforce Partner.
Validation comes in many shapes and guises, and while we focus on customer acquisition, feedback and results, external validation such as the above offers a pleasing realisation that the wider community within which we operate is beginning to sit up and take good notice.
I cannot stress what it has meant for us to be backed by such illustrious accreditation, validating our very existence and bolstering our desire to keep going, innovating and helping our customers thrive.
And, on that note…
Where do I start? The penny dropped this year. From new messaging for our sales and marketing to brilliant ideas at the cusp of our technical capabilities, our customers have been instrumental. Innovation comes faster from a melting pot than your own midnight moments of “I’ve got it!”. Our users experience their problems every day, they stress and strain over them more than we do and so their experiences and suggestions have become the lifeblood of our future development.
2018 has taught us one thing; listen, learn from and involve your early customers. They may well define the path you take, the successes you experience, find your greatest flaws and your hidden strengths. So hold them dear and keep them close, for this is something you should never allow to wither.
Thank you to all who have contributed this year – you know who you are!
We’ve really seen our culture take shape in 2018 as our team reaches for 10. I’m incredibly proud of the way our individuals have taken on the autonomy that comes with working for a business like ours. Finding new ways to test, iterate and master their craft, all the while in a moving object that shifts its goals and messages. Thanks to them, we have processes and crafty knacks that I couldn’t have imagined a few months ago.
It can be a little frightening to share the reins over major aspects of the business, but I’ve realised that relinquishing control is inevitable and I’ve also realised that the right people can do things a lot better and more efficiently than I can!
My business partner never ceases to amaze me. Amidst the trials and tribulations we live and breath every day, he has raised his first child, his one year old daughter. A few weeks ago, Athena made it into the Kluster office for the very first time. I offered her my laptop and a headset… Alas, no cold calls were made, however it was a wonderful reminder that we needn’t sacrifice the people and things we hold dear and that balance has to be found if we are to be ready-minded and at our very best when the business needs it most.
Business ownership is tough, but it can be a lot easier if you take a moment to breath and be, well, human.
I’m excited for 2019. We’ve worked hard to establish our brand, create consistency in our processes, and we have more than a handful of innovations to take to market. The year ahead gets serious for us. Many have backed and helped us to this stage and we now need to prove that everything we have built so far supports and maintains our ambitious growth goals.
Just as we have overcome plenty of challenges, I expect a gleaming new set awaits us. We will need to lean on our team more than ever, involve our customers to a greater extent and keep our heads when things get choppy. With growth, we expect pain. But you know what they say; what doesn’t kill you…