#102 - Company Building
Eating bread, missions, and great people
A word on company building.
Part of my ongoing inquest into what exactly my day job is.
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What is a company? Let’s start there.
A quick google tells me:
A company, abbreviated as co., is a legal entity representing an association of people, whether natural, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objective.
An association of people, with a specific objective.
That’s nice and simple.
The name, of course, has another meaning: The word “company” has older roots. It’s from the Latin:
companio - one who eats bread with you
Isn’t that lovely? A sentiment that certainly gets lost in the corporations of today.
And that’s it really. Every company is:
1) An association of people (who eat bread with each other)
2) working towards a specific objective.
So if one was to engage in the art of company building? Well there’s only, then, two things to focus on: the people and the objective.
How hard can that be?
Pretty damn hard, as it turns out.
Let’s look at the objective. This comes in two parts: what is it and how do we get there?
Simple in theory but not in practice.
What is it? Perhaps this is a mission statement. Airbnb, to use an example, say:
“Airbnb's mission is to help create a world where you can belong anywhere and where people can live in a place, instead of just traveling to it.”
Lovely but how on earth does one make that happen?
Well, hopefully the product will create that change in the world. So it’s creating the right product and scaling it. Globally, in Airbnb’s case.
Which is where the how do we get there? comes in.
That’s very tricky.
Most new companies, “startups”, are severely resource constrained. It’s the old “jumping off a cliff and building a plane on the way down.”
Not only do you need to build this new thing. You need to gather the resources to do so as you go. And quickly, the world is changing too.
But the good news is you’re not alone. Do things right and you’ll have company.
That’s where the people come in.
The people element is vastly underrated. It’s basically all a company is. An association of people.
And yet getting people right is a long way down the priorities for many.
I would argue it’s all you really need to get right!
Get the objective, sure. But then it’s just about building the association of people. They’re the ones who will make the objective a reality.
It’s not a numbers game either.
One great person is worth one hundred ok people.
In fact that’s not true because one hundred ok people might cost 50x more. So the one great person is vastly preferable.
Ok, but how does one get the great people? You might wonder. How do you find, how do you hire, how do you afford them even?
Well, therein lies the job. Good luck.
My Week in Books📚
History of the Peloponnesian War (in progress) by Thucydides
Gosh, heavy. About 75% of the way through. Starting to enjoy it but it’s rather impossible to follow who each obscure Greek town is (there are hundreds). I expect this one makes a little more sense each time you read it.
I’ll be updating the books I’ve read this year here. Any recommendations? Let me know! See 2021’s books here.
A Final Thought 💡
“You need the right people with you, not the best people.”
– Jack Ma