Βillionaire Jeff Hoffman is one of the co-founder of Priceline.com, a partner at UBid as well as many other successful start-ups. Often, he likes to share with the rest of us his ‘all-or-nothing’ approach—an approach that aims at helping business people make a difference and solve efficiency problems.
In the past, he founded eight start-ups, sold two of them, two went public, two failed and two are still developing. He spends most of his time in business consulting. You see, according to his point of view, business people can be the solution to many of the world’s problems.
So, what makes a company go forward? Hoffman gave us the following valuable advice:
Aim at succeeding at one thing
Becoming the strongest voice in the market is not an easy thing nowadays, for any of us. You aim at a) people knowing you b) being the immediate solution to their problem. For this to happen, you don’t have to be the only company that provides this service. But it is necessary that you are the best at it. The road to excellence demands two things from you: enormous loyalty and focus. Focus is necessary because being enormously loyal and engaged to too many things at the same time is impossible. Pick one single thing that you can be the best at and do that. Be so engaged in it that people will look at you and think: ‘Hey, wait a minute, aren’t you the woman who did ΤΗΑΤ?’ As soon as you reach that level, people will come to you because they will trust you.
When you, as the person who owns the company, win a gold metal at something, then people—investors, clients, the media, will look at you differently.
Lessons from Priceline’s story: from conception to reality
Priceline’s intellectual property was created by Jay Walker who had an idea for the creation of a consumer/buyer-based harvest system. However, the idea demanded the formation of a team—to transform any idea into an operational business you need a team. A team must be comparted by people of various types of skills and competences—the skills you will need in order to accomplish your special goals. What you, as a business person, must do is to create a list with all the things that must be running smoothly for the goal to be achieved. A sub-folder in that list must be a list of the skills the team needs in order to accomplish each of the things in the mother list. Create a team according to your skill list and your line of tasks.
Growth & precariousness
Growth asks for a great deal of risk-taking. Ask yourself ‘Why am I doing this’, because if you aim high there is no way to do it without taking some risks and responsibilities.
The misleading image of entrepreneurship
There is a perception that if you are a businessperson you receive a special award if you work 24/7. The expectation is that businesspeople work nonstop. This, however, is a misleading perception because when the… challenge hits the fun, entrepreneurs do whatever is needed and devote a level of effort that 9-5 philosophy workers could never devote. Chronic nonstop working is not characteristic of a businessperson, but of a non-efficient professional. When the gun marks the start, at the time of the ‘explosion’, at that phase, yes, your mindset must be a ‘I will do whatever it takes to makes this fly’. But in the process, what you must do is to build a company that will not even need you in order to operate.
The real goal
Your goal must be this: to plan a business which will be so effective that you will be able to decrease the number of employees instead of needing to increase it. Outsource non-crucial projects and automate everything that can be automated. A day must come when no one will even call you when you are not at the office, because no one will need you. The ultimate goal is to build a company that needs you less and less.