Mark Zuckerberg is not your average CEO. Any discussion about the Facebook honcho veers to his wealth, young age, the early days of Facebook and even his choice of fashion. But his ability as an entrepreneur is rarely discussed. There is no doubt that Zuckerberg is an excellent CEO and has successfully completed the transformation from a start-up boss to a corporate bigwig. Facebook is now valued at more than $100 billion in the world equities market.
Zuckerberg did not go through a perfect or error free transition process. On the contrary, he made several mistakes – so much that many (including his critics) have documented them. He, however, understands that mistakes are an important component of a job. Zuckerberg practically embraces them. His entrepreneurial experience can be matched only by a few in this world and there are some business lessons you can learn from Zuckerberg.
Businesses must have a more abstract aim.
As per Zuckerberg, he never started Facebook to make it a company. He wanted it to quench a global impulse to connect. It was created to complete a social mission of making the world more connected and open. It would be unthinkable for him to have predicted the huge success of Facebook. Its mission is to connect individuals, businesses, and brands. Forging relationships have been the USP of Facebook since its inception. As Zuckerberg says, building a business and building a mission are complementary to each other.
The business facet of Facebook is to offer a platform for advertisers and expose users to a number of brands which appeal to them.
Move quickly and break from tradition.
As per Zuckerberg, moving quickly helps to learn faster and to construct more things. When companies grow, they slow down as they become afraid to make mistakes. The idea is that if you have not broken anything, then you are not moving as fast to make a great company. Similarly, if you are not making any mistakes, you are not dynamic enough.
Facts perceived as errors for the first time have transformed Facebook into the success it is now. For example, when the News Feed was newly launched, there was a howl of protest from a number of Facebook users. The company ultimately made a compromise: it made possible for its readers to see not only the newer version of the newsfeed but also see the same in its older avatar.
Facebook also launched the new Timeline feature and a few other changes which were not greeted warmly by its subscribers at the initial phase. But, like everything else, it is a much popular feature today. More importantly, users have not migrated to another social media service.
The important point when dealing with errors is to distinguish between “real” mistakes and “false positive” mistakes. For example, the Timeline feature would display as “false positive” mistake as it was believed to be a substantial fault at first but, later on, turned to an immense success. Facebook made a few real mistakes too, like Beacon.
Do not hesitate to take risks.
As per Mark Zuckerberg, not taking any risk is the biggest risk of all. If you want to progress in life, there is no staying risk averse. You can make many mistakes, but the crippling mistake is not to make any mistakes at all. In a changing world, the strategy that will surely fail is to not change and the inability to take a risk. Facebook has taken a large number of risks and many of them were failures and a few were blockbuster successes. It is to be remembered that failure is a part of the normal business process.
Hire the best people.
Zuckerberg knew his limitations; the lack of people skills was one among many of them. Therefore, he hired Sheryl Sandberg as the new COO of Facebook in 2008. He has always handpicked his team and his choices have paid off over the years. Zuckerberg has said that he spends a significant portion of his working hours to find the right personnel to run his company.
The hiring of Sandberg permitted Zuckerberg to concentrate on his forte of improving the Facebook platform, as the COO administered the complete “show” part of the business, like PR, relationships with advertisers, expansion, and Public Relations. It is abundantly clear to any lay observer that Sandberg is an integral partner to the success of Facebook.
Zuckerberg has maintained his stand for a long time the imperative to construct a great product, rather than concentrating on making a profit. His approach to recruitment has therefore pivoted on hiring personnel who are aligned to the long-term vision of the company. This, according to Zuckerberg, is more important than money.
Growth is compulsory.
According to Zuckerberg, if you are happy with a product, you must centralize factors like a team dedicated to growth. For example, Facebook had a “Spread Facebook” team whose only function was to persuade people to sign up to the social media site and use it.
The Facebook growth team soon found out that any new signer needed at lease 10 friends to stay engaged and be a repeat visitor to Facebook. Less than 10 friends and there is inadequate content to return to their account. Once Facebook acquired this information, they removed a lot of hurdles in the new registration process and discovering new friends setup.
In the end, there is nothing special about the success of Mark Zuckerberg. He dreamed, planned and worked hard to mark his niche in the world. For him, luck has nothing to do with his success, hard work is what matters.
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