Adam Lyons is the Founder of Insurance Zebra, Kayak for car insurance.
I think its super important to listen. Tough decisions are never easy, and in startups there’s rarely a decision that’s black and white, so when it comes time to make the call under pressure you better be sure you understand all aspects of the issue at hand. As a leader it’s your job to ask the right questions before something blows up.
Communication. Everyone agrees process gets in the way, but in large companies there’s rarely open communication so its necessary. A lot of startups think they can just get rid of the red-tape without replacing it with excessive communication but I don’t think that works. Always over-communicate.
Just listen to your customer. So many companies forget this fundamental principle its insane. Even experienced, smart people forget to just listen to the damn customer! It happens in almost every company, everyone just gets caught up in the momentum of trying to move things forward- don’t forget how you got there or you won’t be there long.
Passion. I’m super excited and really believe in what we’re doing. I wouldn’t devote my life to it if I didn’t really believe it was worth it. I think it’s important for all team members to really believe in the vision and share that passion and dedication. You can’t fake passion.
We eat lunch together on Wednesdays. It seems small but it makes a big difference when everyone stays in the office, plus our open format allows everyone to catch up on things they’ve “been meaning to talk about”. When you’re eating you can’t really text or email, you’re forced to interact with the crew.
Insurance is a very competitive space with CPC costs upwards of $50 bucks per. For our early customers we got clever. We had to look other places where the big guys weren’t. Leveraging social and other tactics not well known by the larger folks we were able to get our product in the hands of excited consumers.
There RARELY is a “right” answer. Starting/ running a company isn’t a science, its an art. You will never stop making mistakes, if you think you’re not making mistakes I would bet that’s a sign you’re about to fail.
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