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Four Pillars for Building a Company

This RCP Guest Blog was written by Peter Bauer, CEO and co-founder of Mimecast.

The characteristics of an effective leader have been covered extensively -- the bottom line usually being that the elements of leadership are notoriously difficult to define or measure.

However, many leaders often share a similar conviction that keeps each of them moving forward. Leadership with conviction empowers leaders to fully invest in an idea, convince others to follow them and entice others to want the product or service.

As expected, a leader's conviction is tested often by team members, customers and partners. While successful leaders hold on to their conviction and carry others with them on their journey, during the good and the bad, even better leaders manifest their conviction in core values that guide their businesses.

While every leader and founder has his or her own unique journey and perspective to add to the conversation, below are a few pillars of leadership that have worked for me:

1. Hire Friends
People are at the heart of every business, and investing in those who believe in what they work on is key to success. By hiring friends -- and their friends and their friends (in more formal words, hiring by referral) -- leaders bring on those who share similar conviction. When a business brings on those who share the faith, these same team members will fly the flag and persevere when the going gets tough. When this culture is built from the beginning, not only will team members treat each other like friends, but also extend this same level of care to the business' customers and partners.

2. Beware of Agendas
Any entrepreneur will tell you that it is very hard to innovate when you are living in constant fear of missing payroll and running out of cash. While there are several avenues to acquire this capital and the temptation is strong, consider the long-term commitments attached to some financial partnerships and try to stay true to the needs of your team as well as your vision. If you are convinced your business is capable of truly solving a problem, keep to your own agenda and only partner with those who see growth in the same way.

3. Build Partnerships
These days, it's fashionable to have reseller partnering options as a cloud company. But just a few years back, the SaaS startups were projecting that this was the end of the channel. Others, seeing that there was a broad future for how computing and applications would be delivered, took a risk. Leaders, such as those who believed in partnerships and developed a channel ecosystem for their SaaS businesses, understand the challenges of going against the grain and invest in building new models. 

4. Create Your Own Architecture
Every industry has an existing market with a giant potential to be rewritten and rebuilt in a particular way. For example, we believed the computing model was shifting from a LAN-based, client-server, single-tenant architecture to a cloud-based, grid-oriented, multi-tenant arrangement. Being able to build a platform to fit this new model was always going to be expensive and very hard. However, the investment and the time dedicated to seeing this vision through and remaining committed to developing services for our customers and partners resulted in us being a step ahead of competition who are now living in denial, and operating as application hosters or are racing to re-architect to ensure they have a future in the cloud.

To other leaders and entrepreneurs within our community, remain dedicated to your conviction and pass your vision on to others around you. There are points along the journey when any individual can have their conviction tested, but even in those times, your conviction in the target market will propel your business forward. Conviction is what is needed on the long road to turn an exciting vision into reality.

Posted on August 06, 2013 at 8:50 AM


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