Photo: The Consumerist via Flickr
Say what you will about Facebook and about how it’s a place for MySpace refugees, but Mark Zuckerberg is a billionaire. He didn’t get there because he wanted to get successful and then sell out. This social media maven got to where he’s at right now because of four distinct things: long-term thinking, risky behaviour, tough skin, and adaptability. And you can too.Lesson One: Long-Term Thinking
Focusing on the tasks of the day is an important goal, to be sure. But losing sight of the bigger picture of your company can lead to trouble. From the beginning of your business, you need to focus on what you want to do five or 10 years down the road. The decisions you make today will affect that future, but keeping your eyes only on the pile of work before you is not necessary going to help you with a long-term plan.
To adjust your thinking, you will want to create a mission statement or a description of what you want your business to look like in a decade. With each decision you make or action you take during the day, ask yourself whether it is helping to support that long-term goal. If not, it’s time to reassess what you’re doing and what you should be doing instead to support your future.
Lesson Two: Risky behaviour
Facebook started out as a way to connect college students, not as necessarily a way to create a billion dollar social network. And yet, that’s exactly what it did. By taking a risk and fulfilling a seen need, Facebook could have been just another Internet tool that didn’t quite make it in the sea of so many other great ideas.
Instead, Facebook’s founders took a risk and they continue to take risks with advertising, games, profile changes, privacy setting changes, and more. Facebook is a growing and breathing website. It’s not static and it responds to the long-term goals and visions of the users and the developers. Taking these risks pays off in the long run, even if you don’t get the best feedback at first….
Lesson Three: Tough Skin
And that’s why another less of Facebook is to have tough skin. The truth is that there will always be someone out there that doesn’t agree with what you do. They will bash you on the message boards and they will tell everyone they know that you are doing something that’s absolutely crazy or stupid, or both. While you might think you need to change things back to the way they were before the criticism, stop before you do something like that.
When you’re getting attention for your company, any sort of attention, it means that people are looking at you and what you do. Though criticism might be something to consider when you are thinking of changes, you can’t listen to everyone and change whenever someone whines. What you can do is consider what you hear and then decide whether YOU agree with it. If not, move on. The haters will too.
Lesson Four: Adaptability
Finally, and this should come as no surprise, there are some things you need to do with your business in order to stay caught up with the times and with your users. Being able to adapt to the needs of your audience is paramount to long-term success. Notice that people use a certain feature? Make it better. Notice that people never use something else? Get rid of it. This, of course, doesn’t mean that you should change everything when people change their minds, but you should adjust to the needs of the majority of your customers. That will get you noticed as a company that listens.
The lessons of Facebook continue on as the website begins to move into a new era where businesses use the site as a marketing tool. Times are changing, and so can you when it comes to how you manage your business.
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