How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business leaders for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: Kate Kendall, CEO of CloudPeeps.
Current gig: Founder and CEO at CloudPeeps
Location: San Francisco, CA
Current mobile device: iPhone 6
Current computer: 12” MacBook
One word that best describes how you work: Wholeheartedly
What apps/software/tools can't you live without?
G Suite, Slack, Github, Asana, Zoom, Intercom, Lyft, CloudPeeps, Spotify, Facebook Groups, Twitter and YouTube.
What social network do you find the most useful?
What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?
Where to start!
Firstly, you need to develop a strong constitution and mission. The reason why these are important is because while many businesses fail, some succeed and they require a lot of commitment and personal sacrifice. You have to ask yourself if you’re passionate about your mission enough to dedicate at least five years of your life to it. Along the way, you will also get people trying to inform or influence your direction – so you need to stay true to you and your vision – even if it means you’re the only person ‘in the arena’ at times. Keep your confidence and optimism up!
Secondly, learn how to hire and recruit properly. As someone who loves helping people, and at worst - a ‘rescuing type’ – this has stumped me along the way. I focused too much on serving people’s needs and wants – or hiring roles that I was comfortable with such as non-technical ones instead of more software engineers. The key is to identify the core business needs and hire around these in a ‘jobs to be done’ framework. This is why I believe freelancing and accessing independent consultants on demand is the future.
Finally, become great at both operating and growing your business. Operations is important because it keeps your business running well, and marketing is important because well, growth is everything in a startup. In the first few years, depending on the type of business you have, I’d say it should be a mix of 20% operations and 80% growth.
What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?
That a business journey can also be a spiritual journey. I’m someone who is interested in personal transformation as well as professional development – and didn’t think I would get much of this through building businesses. I have wanted to spend a few months in India exploring myself and the world for as long as I can remember. But running a business means you can barely take a day offline let alone a month or two! That said, I’ve been surprised that I’ve been able to test and learn as much about myself from my business journey.
What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Thinking big and small: I can be thinking two years down the track while managing a project’s daily to do list. A dreamer and doer so to speak. This is super useful when starting businesses as it combines a visionary with someone who is practical and focused, so you can get achieve a fair bit with one just person.
What's your sleep routine like?
I love sleep. I need sleep. It’s hard to talk about sleep when there may be parents reading this but I definitely love a solid eight hours. I usually get to bed by 11.30pm and wake around 7.30am. I then spend 30 minutes working from bed and replying to emails, which goes against every zen or productivity guru’s advice.
What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?
It honestly depends so much on the individual founder and the business.
One thing I’ve been exploring lately is redefining what success actually means. Recently, in Silicon Valley, we’ve seen many unicorn startups grow to the point where their ethics, culture and community relations break. I want to see more examples of companies that are growing but also having a positive impact on the planet. I’m over the growth-at-all-costs way. Women CEOs and female founders are particularly well placed to lead this change. I also think it’s a great time for business, government and technology to come together and focus on solving real issues.