When the Going Gets Tough…… DIG IN!

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the Jerry Maguire-esque post by Fab.com CEO Jason Goldberg in which he challenges staff to think critically about why they work for the company. His general tone suggests that as fun as it was to skyrocket to $1B valuation and beyond in a very short period of time, staff should avoid viewing “tough times” as reason enough to jump ship.

I’ve read various articles about Mr. Goldberg’s unorthodox management style, which probably works against him both with employees and media, however, I do find myself reading his position and thinking there’s some validity to it.

In the last 5 years, many companies have gone from zero to hero in a relatively short period of time, only to have the fairy tale end and carpet pulled from under their feet. Groupon, LivingSocial, & Fab are all excellent examples of companies that have exploded in popularity amongst both consumers & merchants in recent years, but have since seen a decline in positive public sentiment. But that doesn’t mean those employees working at those companies should jump ship. In fact, I’d argue that Goldberg is right on point when he says:

“If you’re really into startups, this is the fun time. This is the time you earn it and learn it. Want to know what it takes to turn around a company and rebuild it?”

Is it fun to be at a start-up that hasn’t had to face significant challenges? Absolutely. Is it more fun to be a part of a team that is on the cusp of something brilliant, but not quitethere yet? 100%. The energy that pulses through a start-up on the brink of something amazing is impossible to replicate in most corporate environments — it truly is one of a kind.

But it’s also pretty rare to be a part of a company that has exploded onto the e-commerce scene as a company that offers ABC and is now figuring out a way to parlay that into XYZ. There is a whole lot of value in sticking with a company that realizes that early success may not necessarily translate to present day success, but is determined to identify what present day success requires and pursue it diligently. In fact, if you work for a company that refuses to ask the question, “How is the way we’re doing things now preventing us from being as successful as we could be in the future?” you should leave.

In short, I think the public has a tendency to be pretty fickle. Everyone is so easy to write a company off, but unwilling to give said company a chance to reinvent/readjust themselves. The truth is that in a world where companies can skyrocket so quickly on a single idea, it’s important to give said company ample time to adjust it’s business model. Companies like Amazon, Apple, GE weren’t built overnight. Those companies took a very long time establish themselves and likely went through several strategy iterations before they got to where they are today. Hell, they are likely STILL going through iterations to get it right. So why do we hold so many early stage companies feet to the fire so soon? The internet has accelerated the speed at which many companies soar, but doesn’t allow them proper time to readjust when things didn’t work out 100% perfectly, and that is something I think start-up employees need to stick around to solve. One thing is for certain, quitting when there is still plenty left to learn is a mistake.

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