From bankers, engineers and innovators
Developing innovative services together with former bankers and brokers as well as lawyers, designers, engineers, and external business partners for an international, digital B2B marketplace in the financial industry is a child’s play. With our quick start guide, you can realize your successful business model within a few days.
I may have gone out on a limb with this. If you have already taken up the challenge of developing new services, products or business models yourself, you will have seen through my ruse.
I must confess, I cannot offer you a cookie-cutter recipe for the successful development of your company. However, the premise that applies to every entrepreneur is to make decisions which in the majority of cases lead to a positive result. I am happy to share with you, how we at Loanboox meet this challenge.
The boss decides (not everything)
Decisions lead to results or not. And because they lead to something, decision-making is an important part of leadership.
Steve Jobs is said to have been heavily involved in product development and made many decisions himself. Quite a few see this as the reason for Apple’s success. Completely in the sense of: if you want it to be good, you have to do it yourself. For some contemporaries, the conclusion is therefore obvious that the manager must exercise control and sovereignty over all decisions.
The development of the iPod in the early 2000s was a milestone for Apple: “1000 songs in your pocket”. The iPod was a groundbreaking, small device with a timeless design, a radically simple user interface, and unprecedented storage capacity. In addition, the small miracle device was Apple’s forerunner in the lucrative music business, as the established music industry found no remedy against music piracy. At that time in the early 2000s, Apple had several thousand employees who developed and sold computers. The iPod and the music business could only emerge because many conditions were met:
- Market environment:
- The music industry found no remedy against music piracy around the 2000s and the turnover of the record companies collapsed.
- The iPod was not the first device on the market. Steve Jobs was inspired by inadequate MP3 players.
- During a routine visit to Toshiba in 2000, an Apple employee was accidentally made aware of the new 1.8-inch hard drive with 5 GB capacity.
- Experience: Apple owned a complete system of hardware and software, which enabled it to offer the music industry effective copy protection for the music from the iTunes Music Store. Thus, in the 1980s Apple already started to develop what was going to be the data transfer technology between iPod and Macintosh and introduced it to the market as the Firewire standard in the 1990s.
- Product development:
- Apple dedicated entire teams to the development of iPod, iTunes and iTunes Music Store. iTunes was bought with a company acquisition, including its software development team.
- At Apple, different approaches, prototypes and solutions were developed simultaneously to find the best solution.
- The newly hired iPod development manager, on the advice of an experienced Apple employee, showed Steve Jobs several prototypes of the device in such a way that Jobs chose the team’s favorite device. Steve Jobs has often made his decisions based on prototypes and by comparing different variants, which, nota bene, had to be developed by the staff beforehand.
- Usability: Apple was able to keep the user interface of the iPod so simple because all advanced functions were moved to the software iTunes on the Macintosh (later also on the PC).
Steve Jobs undoubtedly led Apple into undreamed-of heights. He was inspiring, an excellent marketer, both internally and externally, and defined the high standards for employees and products. Of course, Steve Jobs did not make every decision himself, nor did he or Apple develop all product components themselves, and he also took advantage of some lucky coincidences. Visionary entrepreneurs are equally, if not more, dependent on their employees knowing the direction and using their autonomy to achieve the company’s goals.
Strategy of the best decisions
«It is not important what is decided. The main thing is that one person decides now.» source unknown
It is not possible to run a company by this sentence, but the aspects of urgency and orientation contained in it are important for the dynamics in the company. Level-appropriate decisions must be able to be made by everyone, anytime and anywhere in the organization, for the benefit of the company. If the managing director were to make every decision, he would not use the team as a multiplier to achieve the desired goals.
In order to make a decision in a goal-oriented manner, the underlying facts and the resulting implications must be understood. Depending on their role in the company, employees are better prepared for one or the other decision and are ultimately responsible for it. A system must, therefore, be established in the company that supports all employees in making decisions that leads to the desired results.
The most important tool here is the strategy or a set of strategies. A strategy is often described as a plan of action: Development of product X, then market launch and then cross-selling for product Y. However, plans often fail in the face of reality and it makes no sense to stubbornly complete the plan. Stephen Bungay, a thought leader in strategy development, defines strategy differently in his book “The Art of Action”:
«Strategy is a deployable decision-making framework, enabling action to achieve desired outcomes, constrained by current capabilities, coherently aligned to the existing context.»
A strategy according to this definition needs to be adapted less frequently than outdated plans. They provide clear guidance and focus on the effectiveness of the results. It allows employees to decide whether option A or option B leads to a better result in the interest of the company. Leadership lies in the definition of this system and it is the task of managers to establish it.
For the development of our innovative digital marketplace for debt financing, we have established a system of strategies at Loanboox. We use different strategies depending on the scope and consequences of the decision. Each strategy pursues a specific purpose and serves a different time horizon. Certain levels serve the longer-term perspective, others influence daily business.
The only constant here is change. We will continue to improve our approach and adapt it to new circumstances. The main thing is to get the best ideas. #ChangeTheGame
Maybe you are thinking – “Am I supposed to set up and implement all this in a few days?” – That is hardly feasible. Do you see it differently?
You do not have to build up a Fintech yourself, let us redefine financing and investment in the debt capital market together.
I look forward to your comments, feedback and contact.
Author: Dominique Huegli, COO Loanboox
- Escaping the build trap, Melissa Perri, 2020
- Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson, 2011
- The Art of Action, Stephen Bungay, 2010