For Financeit, 2015 has been a great year of growth and validation. The company doubled its lending program partnership with Pacific & Western Bank of Canada from $35 million to $75 million, and raised an undisclosed equity financing round with Goldman Sachs. Most recently, Financeit was part of KPMG’s FinTech 100 for 2015.
So it was fitting that Casper Wong, co-founder and COO of Financeit, would choose to talk about lessons learned (the hard way, in his words) about growing companies at #TechTO’s last meetup of the year. During the talk, he established three key lessons.
1. Figure out the “Why?”
This is something that can sometimes get lost as a company focuses on simply trying to survive. “Why are you meaningful and why are you different? If you get this right, it touches everything, from product, to strategy, to who’s your customer,” said Wong, who stresses that answering these questions is key to helping founders make better decisions about the direction that their companies will go.
2. Focus and know when to say no
Early stage companies can be tempted to say yes to every single opportunity as the team struggles to prove itself to investors and prove its product market fit. But if a company says yes to every opportunity, it’s tough to really hone in on a few specific skills.
“You risk trying to become everything to everyone, and as a result, you end being not good at anything,” Wong said. “Saying no is powerful because saying no helps to align the organization. Everyone is rowing in the same direction, everyone is reading off the same page. So sales, product, operations — everyone is focused on solving the same problems.”
3. Build a performance culture
Wong used professional sports teams as an example. Everyone, from coaches to players, has a clearly-defined role, metrics that define performance, and all work in a competitive environment. Similarly, people working in startups should have clearly-defined objectives, and those objectives should be measurable and attainable.
“One of the keys of setting these objectives is making sure that the employees themselves are actually setting their own objectives and not being told, ‘This is what you’re going to do’,” he said.
Watch the whole talk, including questions from the audience, below: