Last week, Chaotic Moon CEO Ben Lamm broke down the fundamental guidelines for building a killer company—like, say, Chaotic Moon—in an exclusive op-ed for the Austin Business Journal, and just in case you missed it, we’ve got Lamm’s words of wisdom again for you here…
When we hire, brilliance and experience are essential, but what’s just as crucial is culture fit.
Chaotic Moon has been dedicated to transforming brands and entire industries through its digital solutions. Companies on our roster range from Adidas, Microsoft to Disney and Dell, and the studio has made headlines not only for its award-winning consumer and enterprise applications, but also for innovations such as autonomous robotic shopping carts or mind-controlled skateboards. Here are my rules for how to build a killer business.
1. It all starts and ends with brand
Many people do not understand full branding and how important it is to the organizational health of your company. A brand is much more than a color scheme, a cute name, and a font treatment or mark; it’s the cultural zeitgeist of who you are as a company. You must instill your brand values into your managers, employees, and even clients. Your mission statement, structure, and even how you operationally run your company should be driven by your brand and the values you set in it. You don’t get to be the best by not believing it and instilling it in your employees.
2. Remember, creativity is a culture
At Chaotic Moon, we call ourselves a creative technology studio, and that’s because we operate on the belief that creativity isn’t a department or something you implement only in certain situations. It’s a mindset and a culture that infuses every soul who works here: our design team, our developers, sales, marketing, and even interns. We work hard to blur the lines between our departments and encourage creative collaboration.
3. Take risks
Playing it safe is fine for some people, but we didn’t get as far as we have — or as fast — by following the trends. Anything worth doing is hard and has some risk to it. We often take projects with clients who have been told what they are trying to achieve is impossible or the technology doesn’t exist yet. Our clients look for us to keep them on the forefront of innovation. This means that we spend a lot of time and money on internal R&D, experimenting, and even failing, but it’s worth every penny to keep us on the edge of a multiplicity of emerging technologies.
4. Work with brands that let you do what you do best
When asked what our competitive advantage is against other companies in the market is, I quickly respond that Chaotic Moon isn’t afraid of being fired. It’s imperative that you set the rules of engagement when working with your clients. We’ll tell you where you’re killing it, but we’ll also tell you where you’re failing. Be bold but respectful while not being afraid to be honest with your customers. We want to work with companies that are extremely good at what they do, but fully appreciate what we do and are willing to trust us as their digital Sherpas, giving us the trust and freedom to do what we do best.
5. Hire the best people who are the best fit
When we hire, brilliance and expertise are essential, but what’s just as crucial is culture fit. But we don’t want to hire just smart people. We want to hire thinkers, dreamers, builders, and doers that are hell-bent on changing the world through software. During the interview process, once we’ve confirmed the candidate is a rock star at the job description, we then ask ourselves, would we want to work with this person, side by side, into the night, when most people get tired and cranky and the work absolutely has to get done?
6. Create a killer space that’s designed for your people
Having an amazing office does make a huge difference, but it’s not just about pretty couches, and funky conference rooms with stupid names. It’s about building a space where people feel inspired by their surroundings, are proud of and want to come to work every day. Functionally, our office was designed to help our staff do their jobs better and in a more efficient and enjoyable way. Whether you’re a company of three, 30 or 300, you’ve got to invest in your environment.