We can't guarantee success. In fact, like any group in this business, we've experienced the occasional failure. The opportunity is to learn from these events and to develop the knowledge and values that positively influence future behavior.
Everything we do is done with a long-term view. By thinking long-term we build stronger foundations and make decisions that reinforce sustainability. We value patience and persistence. Of course, we're still affected by short term events and have to adapt to them, but we try not to be excessively influenced by what's happening next week, month, or even year.
Design & Details Matter
We're obsessed with good design and attention to detail. We encourage our employees and incubated companies to view design as a strategic advantage. Whether it's a matter of elegant software code, exceptional visual design, or operational efficiency, attention to detail makes a huge difference. And, yes, we may go overboard in applying this mindset to every aspect of day-to-day business but it's a mentality that defines who we are.
Use the Best Available Tools
Early in his career, MJC's founder made a living by making things with his hands. He learned quickly that you need the right tools to do any job, and the better the tool, the easier the task. This doesn't mean that we spend indiscriminately, but we're pretty convinced that no one can do a great job without the proper tools.
Encourage Creativity and Risk
It's accurate to say that our most significant developments and operational improvements are the result of many voices. To encourage creativity and embrace independent thought we must be open to all ideas (no matter how crazy) and accept the risk of mistakes, at an inevitable financial cost. This is something we accept as the benefits far outweigh the cost. You can't foster creativity in an overly cautious, protective environment. We call this playing "not-to-lose" which is what usually happens when a play-it-safe mentality rules.
We often compare companies, particularly start-ups, to athletic teams. It takes a group to be successful. Not everyone is an immediate star. Talent needs to be identified and developed. This requires a steady commitment to teaching and old-fashioned "learning by doing." As with any team, trades might be made, positions changed, and skills challenged but at the end of the day, every role is important and we strive to assemble talent that can compete and develop as a team for a long time.
Keep Talent Happy
We hate losing good employees. Experience is a valuable advantage and uninvited employee turnover is expensive and disruptive. Since most start-ups can't compete on pay alone, we focus particular attention on the entire work experience. In an age where employees are accessible anytime, anywhere, the idea of a separate live-work balance is increasingly outdated. We are driven to retain employees by creating a desirable, flexible work environment, with challenge, meaning, and career opportunities that becomes part of their everyday life.
Market with Service and Support
Without question, successful marketing is a critical component of any company's success. In a web-based world however, where social media has such impact, we believe that a superior experience (or product) and exceptional customer support are the first steps to a successful marketing effort. No matter what size the company, there's no excuse for anything but world-class service and support as the foundation for an effective marketing strategy.
In an increasingly flat world, successful companies must think globally. Economic and communication barriers have been reduced, if not eliminated. Customers, employees, suppliers, and partners can and should be sourced from any locale that provides a superior outcome. It's smart business to think and act globally. To support this mindset, we encourage our employees to travel and experience personally a more connected and more interdependent world.
Seek Rapid Payback
Most start-ups are defined by limited resources and many demands on those resources. We use "payback time" to help evaluate the attractiveness of a major expense, and to avoid automatically justifying its value as a long-term benefit. Advertising is a classic example of this type of expense. If it pays for itself quickly, then we're likely to spend the money. If we're not sure, then we either pass or test the expense on a much smaller scale.
We love education and continual learning. How can any company afford not to do so? We believe it's impossible to remain competitive if a company and its employees don't have a desire and willingness to learn. As a result, we expect every employee to be a curious learner - whether by reading, taking a class, attending a seminar, or asking lots of questions.
Check Egos at the Door
We hire and work with smart people who, by their nature, have strong egos and a competitive drive. To succeed as a team, we keep the egos in check and direct the competitive feelings outward.
Make an Impact
We want to work with and develop companies that have the potential to earn more than just a financial return. At the end of the day, we want our efforts to empower and enable others to prosper. We seek to employ people who have similar goals. Our focus on education and learning is one response to this mission.