Welcome to Startup Sunday, a new series of posts by Tim that will focus, not on the coffee industry, but on running a startup company or small business and the struggles and lessons that are found within those experiences. Every Sunday, Tim will publish a new blog post about how Guddina is doing as a new company, and will look for discussion in the comments to see how we can improve our services and products that are offered.
In 2013, I decided it was time to stop filling my work flow with every single app known to man and instead focus on just a few super-apps that could make my life easier. Gone were the days of downloading the newest, greatest app in the App Store or Google Play and trying it for a few days before uninstalling. Gone were the thoughts that I had to have the best software in order to get any work done on a day-to-day basis. Gone was the idea that I even needed a piece of software at all in order to complete the tasks set before me.
In 2013, I wiped my phone clean and started fresh with just a few apps that I hoped would stick around long enough for me to become an pro-user. Evernote, Google Apps and Feedly were at the top of my list, and for a long time I didn’t use any other apps besides those three. This was a new way of thinking for me (having a background of writing at Mobile Nations and editing Android Phones For Dummies), but I knew it would be for the best. Today, those three apps are still installed and still used on a daily basis, with the addition of one more that quickly became more than just an app I use, but a company I watch and am inspired by.
Buffer, which is a tool built by Joel Gascoigne’s Team, makes sharing content on all of Guddina’s social networks super easy, and we use it every day. I don’t want to write about the features of the app in this post, though (check out their website for details on that). Instead, I want to share how the way Joel runs his company has changed the way I will be running Guddina, and what that means for the future of this company.
What does transparency look like?
Probably the biggest thing that Buffer has inspired me to do is to make Guddina a completely transparent company. There are few companies in the world that take transparency as seriously as Joel and the rest of the people at Buffer do, but what exactly does it mean to be transparent?
Here are a few meanings of the phrase that Buffer has acted on beautifully:
- Immediately alerting your users to a security vulnerability and taking action to solve the problems as quickly as possible.
- Sharing all of the details of revenue, traffic and usage across the company on a monthly basis.
- You tell the world your company’s core values, and then describe how you regularly fulfill those values.
- You openly respond with humility to critiques and feedback with humility in the channels your customers are using (not hiding behind a “support desk” wall).
- Publishing details on how your company works internally.
Ultimately, what these things do is:
- Create a company culture and community that the public truly wants to be a part of.
- Holds you accountable to your customers and stake holders.
- Gives you a breadcrumb trail to follow back and see the mistakes of the past that lead to current events.
- Creates the perception that you and your company have nothing to hide and that you’ll always have the customer’s best interests in mind.
- Keeps misunderstandings of your company from happening as often, since your intentions are almost always clearly stated.
- Helps people feel more comfortable approaching you with feedback and concerns (that will ultimately make your business better).
- Paints you as a leader in the industry who doesn’t need to be secretive in order to be innovative
- You become a resource for other companies to learn from as they get started with new, innovative ideas in various industries (for example, we are learning from Buffer, but we are in a completely different business than they are).
How will Guddina be “transparent”?
All that said, I think being transparent is probably harder than it sounds. There are a lot of pieces to balance, especially in the industry of coffee, since we partner with so many shops and roasters that might not care to be affiliated with a fully transparent company like ours. There are a lot of questions that I need to ask myself too, to make sure we’re doing this “transparency” thing correctly. For example: Should Guddina be posting our revenue results each month (or will that make us look bad if we aren’t meeting expectations that our partners might have of us). Should we draw attention to all of our problems we are running into each week, or just chalk those problems up as part of how startups work and let the solutions speak for themselves?
Ultimately, Guddina will follow in the footsteps of Joel and his Buffer team while we get off the ground, and eventually we’ll try and do things even better than they are. We’ll strive to be open and transparent with you in every way that we can moving forward, even if we aren’t entirely sure how that looks yet.
From this point forward, as is hopefully seen by the beginning of this new series of weekly articles, you’ll start noticing some small changes in the way we communicate. Soon, a few new pages will sprout up on our website that will explain our mission, core goals and company culture philosophies. We’ll start sharing a few more details about how we operate on the backend, so that you can be sure we are always doing things honestly and efficiently. You’ll also have new ways to be able to communicate with us and help us become the company I envisioned a year ago.
It’s all pretty scary, for sure, because it leaves us vulnerable in ways that even major corporations hate to do. But I think it’s the best decision. I’m a big fan of honesty and integrity. Why would I hold back on those two things in my business, if I’m unwilling to do so in my personal life?
It’s not enough to send great coffee to your doorstep. That’s what we’ve been saying from the first day I announced Guddina Coffee several months ago, and it will be what we continue to live by going into the future.
Click here to Sign up for the Guddina Startup Sunday Newsletter to get weekly updates from our blog sent straight to your email.