Stewart Butterfield is a Canadian serial entrepreneur. He is famous for founding the photo-sharing site Flickr which he sold to Yahoo. He then developed a gaming application. Glitch, which failed. His latest venture is Slack, a platform for team communication and project management, which has been valued at over $1B. In a recent interview in the Times of India he told of some of the important lessons he has learnt.
When asked what was the one key mantra for a start-up’s success he said, ‘You need to have clarity of purpose which can be communicated to other people. This makes a huge difference.’ He explained that Instagram had a clear and simple message – quick, public photo-sharing on mobile. Flickr was less successful because it had a mixed message – it was used for social photo sharing but also by amateur and professional photographers. He believed that the big reason for Glitch’s failure was that it was not easy to explain the idea to people.
If you want to succeed with a start-up or indeed with any innovative idea then it greatly helps if you can simply explain exactly what it is. Precisely who will benefit from it and what problem does it solve for them? If this clear then it makes your marketing clearer and simpler. You can explain your proposition succinctly for investors, suppliers, contractor and staff.
One of the most important qualities that a leader needs is clarity. There must be an open debate about progress and options but once a course is decided then everyone should get on board and pull in the same direction until the next review meeting. Replace confusion with clarity and the team will thank you. The clear purpose of the leader is to create a clear purpose.