Magazine Article | October 1, 2018

Software Is Not A Game Of Perfect

Source: Software Executive magazine

By Abby Sorensen, Chief Editor

I’ve seen some pretty ugly golf swings in my lifetime (including my own). When it comes to recruiting golfers for my part-time college coaching job, I rarely look at swing videos of our prospects. Why? Because I don’t care what a swing looks like, as long as that recruit can put up good scores. It’s not my place to teach the “perfect” golf swing, because there is no such thing. Instead, it’s my job to ensure our recruits fit our team culture in their work ethic, attitude, academic ability, and personality. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the game. Every golfer — even a great one — has quirks. It’s why my favorite golf book is titled, Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect.

Now that I’ve checked off “write something about golf” from my to-do list for this issue, let’s get to software.

There is no such thing as “perfect” advice when it comes to software businesses or golf swings. I was reminded of this when 75+ software execs joined us in Brooklyn for our Software Executive Forum in late August. We spent the day talking about exit strategies, financing growth, indirect sales models, customer success, and culture. As I was chatting with attendees and fielding questions and comments during sessions, I heard things like, “But that won’t work for startups,” and “But that’s only possible at a private company,” and “But we sell to SMBs; that’s not feasible.” No one was making excuses; rather, the day was full of animated discussions about how best to grow a company. For example:

  • Our first speaker of the day lauded the value of angel investors. A speaker in the next session called a family and friends round “dangerous.” Whether you finance the growth of your company through a line of credit or a huge VC round, there is no “right” way to get the cash (or spend it) to grow.
  • On the topic of “playbooks”: be wary. Borrow elements of them, yes. But you can’t copy and paste one company’s approach to customer success, for example, and expect it to work perfectly for yours.
  • When we discussed culture, one speaker was a big supporter of salary transparency. Undoubtedly there were people in the audience who thought this was crazy. Building a culture takes time, and there is not one “right” culture for your team.

This magazine you’re holding will never claim to offer the “perfect” advice for every single software business. Some things we publish will really resonate with early stage companies. Others will be valuable only to certain members on your team. We can’t be everything to everyone, and that’s also true when it comes to the customers who use your software and the people who work for your company. Some customers just aren’t worth the customization and support cost. Some employees, as talented as they may be, just won’t be on board with your policies and values.

Think of this issue of Software Executive — and every issue for that matter — as a collection of suggestions and ideas. Some might work for your company, and some will not. This month we bring you suggestions and ideas around selling services, compensating customer- facing employees, hiring developers, building a channel program, and more. If you want to hear even more compelling ideas and suggestions, then you can join us at our next Software Executive Forum in San Francisco on October 30. Shoot me an email at abby.sorensen@softwareexecutivemag.com and I’ll send along a free registration code.