Retrospective: F5 Works history and future

business goal change origin 初衷

There were regular meetings reviewing the past and discussing the future. Sales and marketing, financial situation, development project status, staff satisfaction, client satisfaction, etc.

However, something's different recently. We had many bigger and deeper discussions since we are at the pivotal point of the business: 1st year anniversary.

Retrospective

It is almost one year since we started F5 Works, from 2 of us full time growing to 8 of us full time now. We are doing fine, at least we survive our first year. Yay ~ :highfive

However, we are not doing extraordinary either. Mistakes happened, wrong decisions made, client abuses reported, work-life balance not reached and more importantly, we are not getting closer to our goal to start building product.
(Will share more on this part in another post ...)

Problems were reviewed and we have plans how to sort them out one by one. However, one critical issue that we need to sort out immediately is that, after 1 year, different team members has different company directions in their mind. When there are too many directions, sadly, it means no direction.

Remind Ourselves: Origin (初衷)

All the conversations come back to the same question:

Why did we start F5 Works ?

Most of the founding team members were part of 42 Labs. 42 Labs development team was dismissed end of June 2016. Branding and sales connections were lost and it was hard to resume full-capacity consultancy work and support everyone's family. Without putting everyone at risk, we ask everyone to look for jobs before we have any decision for next steps.

While some of us haven't found the jobs with matching culture yet, several companies showed interest in freelancing. However, those are small and short projects. No guarantee that it is sustainable in long term. So, several of us started small again. Gradually we take more projects and get more partners on board.

Having good partners is not enough (to a business)

Recently, when we brought this up again, we found the original reasoning too weak.

We believed that 42 Labs team members are good partners to work with. We trust each other and we appreciate each other's skillset. It looks like a dream team that we are looking for.

However, a place getting friend work together doesn't drive our okay business to a great business. It is not a business goal. It is more like surviving in comfort zone. It is just satisfying individual's personal goal. After thinking twice, it could possibly be the reason why our first year business did not go as far as we want.

A new consensus is needed. Everyone opens up and express what he feels about the business and what the business itself has to achieve in few years time. Sustainability was mentioned, giving back to community was mentioned, and several other big big dreams.

What every small goals have in common is that we need to build a business product first. It has to have big impact to our target audiences, provide company a long term revenue and potentially hit a jackpot. With that successful product in our profile and also the money in hand, we can then move towards to reach bigger dreams.

Move Forward with Real Business Goal

So, our business has a real business goal now.

It is not for individual founders, not for individual clients, it is for F5 Works.

With this mid term goal in mind, everything becomes so much clear, e.g. consultancy project criteria, financial goals, team expansion plan, product effort investment ratio, partner relationship development, individual responsibilities and many more.

Once we get everyone agree on the same (new) page again, everything starts moving into the right direction. Everyone is automated, less discussion is needed to decide on anything and clearly we are getting closer to the goal (if everything works as planned).

Conclusion

I feel like we should have those business direction discussion much much earlier. Our business now has a stronger reasoning behind, and all our decision making are lightning fast now.

It is a long blog post without much actionable suggestions. The only take away of this blog post I guess is about setting a strong business goal before you start your own company. It has to be more than individual's goal. You will need a business core that can drives business forward.