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Time is linear. It does not scale.
When that’s someone’s opening statement, you know it’s going to be a great interview. (And we weren’t disappointed.)
Roy Firestein joined us on the 1to10 podcast to discuss how to move from a service-based company to a product-based company.
Roy is the Chief Product Officer at Cycura, where they deliver offensive (and defensive) cybersecurity services. He’s a seasoned hacker, co-founder of HackStudent and autohost.ai, and an Advisory Board Member of SecTor (Security Education Conference Toronto).
When he came aboard Cycura, his top priority was to help the company scale by developing a product offering. The company had successfully found vulnerabilities within the infrastructure of many of the largest tech companies in the world (such as Google, Facebook, & Microsoft, and others), but the leadership knew that without a product to supplement their service offerings, it would be difficult to move past a few million in revenue.
So, Roy’s on a mission to productize their services. He shared 5 vital steps to moving your company from a service-only company to a product-based business:
Step 1: Align the Company Around Unified Vision & Mission Statements
When he first came on board, Roy asked the leaders for Cycura’s vision and mission statements. He wanted to ensure alignment throughout the entire company, from the leadership to the individuals teams.
Here’s the deal: Most companies have both mission and vision statements. The problem is that hose two vital documents are rarely communicated to the organization.
Roy suggests that these should be re-communicated to the entire team weekly, and at all-hands meetings,
Step 2: Identify Real Customer Problems
It’s about to get real tactical. Roy says to create a list or an Excel sheet of your customers, their businesses, what they do, what their sizes are, and, most importantly, what services they’re procuring from you. Then, you can start to identify common problems.
The goal is to start focusing and identifying big problems your customers are experiencing right now.
Step 3: Talk to Customers
Too often, people build their solutions before they understand how they are going to sell it, what markets they will target, and whether or not their solution solves a truly big problem for their customers.
Successful companies interview their customers, understand their problems, and look for problems they could solve for them. They match those problems and solutions with their own company's mission and vision.
Once there’s a match, the company can start theorizing about what a solution would look like.
Step 4: Invest in the Right Team
This is important to any company, any time, but it’s crucial for making the jump from service to product.
Roy said to look for these 3 qualities in people you hire. (Paraphrased from Warren Buffet.)
Diving in a little more, Roy said that, typically, when dealing with the most highly successful and efficient teams, you’ll find these common characteristics: a commitment to lifelong learning, strong communication, empathy for team members, empathy for customers, diversity of backgrounds, business savvy, autonomy, and accountability.
Step 5: Theorize, Test, Measure, Repeat
After the first 4 steps, it’s time for action. Your goal is to iterate based on your understanding of the problem. Don't overinvest in technology or product until you have course-corrected enough times to know you’re on the right path.
You want to ship as quickly as possible, so you can learn as fast as possible.
Pro tip: try to gain some customers even before you develop the product
If you can gain some early commitments from potential customers before your product is developed, that’s a good sign you are on the right track in solving an actual problem
What's the #1 Thing Someone Can Do to Grow their B2B Tech Company?
We ask every guest on our podcast if they have one grand piece of advice for any growing B2B tech company.
Roy’s answer? Focus on your morning routine.
Roy suggests getting up really early to maximize productivity.
He wakes up between 5am and 6am every day to ensure he has a few hours to himself to take advantage of his own creativity. Science (and experience) shows that people are the most energized and mentally astute in the first few hours of the day, so that’s when you can really move some mountains.
(Roy suggests checking out a book called Your Brain at Work, which highlights the science behind why the early morning strategy works, as well as outlines tactics on how to organize your day for maximum productivity.)
Resources & Links Related to Episode
- Book - "Your Brain at Work" by David Rock
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