SUMO Heavy Industries is small consulting firm and three years in, we do consider ourselves a startup. Right now we do not deliver our own product but we do produce our clients’ products – their eCommerce sites. On any given day, we have six team members working on 10 to 15 different products. No matter what kind of business you’re running there should be a few things that need to happen:
Choose the Right Partner
It is vital to choose the right partner. You are going to be married to him or her. There will be arguments and happy times. [My partner] Bob Brodie and I have had our share of arguments over the past three years, but we also survived going out of business our first year and financial trouble together.
In the end there will be good times and bad and partners need to support each other no matter what. There are days when I feel like I’m about to lose it, and Bob will calm everything down. And the same goes the other way. We are a small team and we are bootstrapping it, so there’s a lot of stress to get everything accomplished.
Also, when looking for a partner make sure you complement each other and are not really alike. Your idea of success and vision for the company should be the same, but you need to have complementary skills. Bob is much more analytical with incredible technical, business and process skills. I am more of a big-picture type guy who pays attention to a lot of different details and puts deals together.
Put Together the Right Team
Right behind choosing your partner, your team is very important. We are currently a team of six, although we’ve had as many as 15. By implementing good processes and efficiency we are back at six, and this number works for us.
I knew all along I was going to be starting some kind of technology company. I started out in networking and help desk support, then moved in to some web development and consulting. I spent a lot of time in the service business. So when we started SUMO after working on multiple things, we decided that eCommerce was the space we wanted to be in. I’ve worked for companies that did many things that lacked clear focus. One did technology support and web development. That company failed. At SUMO, we only deal with eCommerce. Focus is extremely important.
Learn to Juggle
My official title is Head of Brand Experience. That means at the end of the day I am responsible for the experiences that people have with our brand. Everything from our site, to sales calls, to projects, to how our invoices to look, to how we get paid. I also have five other people and their families that I am responsible for and I take that seriously.
As the head of the company I am responsible for everything, and that means juggling. In one day you need to be the sales guy, the human resources manager, the bill collector, the custodian, the travel agent, the guy who gets yelled at by the client, and the cheerleader – and that was just last Thursday. The better you become at juggling multiple roles – while not letting the details slip – the more likely you are to succeed.