From enthusiasm to commercial success

Throughout history, the goal of every human has changed. At the beginning, the sole goal was to survive. With the evolution of mankind, a large percentage of people could work regularly without worrying about survival. Today, our work is not only the source of our income. We want to feel that we are contributing and that we matter. We want our ideas developed. To achieve this, there are various important factors that we need to understand.

In this article, I will provide some hints taken from my personal experience and the experience of my co-workers. These hints can be summarized as follows:

  • know your limits
  • do it now
  • know your priorities
  • know your audience
  • be ready for failure

Literally everything is achievable. But there is also a price you need to pay to succeed in achieving it. Behind this slogan, there is more than just a motivational message. It also means that it is not only about the effort you put in, but also about how much time and resources you devote to it. And, you should not spend 100% of your day working, because a private life is important for your happiness and can significantly improve the quality of your work.

You should not postpone the start of your journey until "the time is right". The time will never be right. As a matter of fact, it will never be "more right" than now. So, if you want to make something big, the sooner you start, the better.

What you should also have in mind is that it is not only about putting in enough effort. You need to thoroughly divide and plan your work by knowing your priorities. You can base your decisions on something like the 80/20 rule. If you plan and prioritize your work properly, 20 percent of your work will give you 80 percent of the value. Of course, these numbers are not exact, but they can show that the majority of the value is delivered by the initial effort you put into something.

No matter in which area you are working, you should know who your main target group is. Imagine you have created a teleportation machine. If your product can only transport individual particles of dust, no one is going to be interested in that. Additionally, the outcome of your work must be beneficial for the majority of your target audience. So, if your teleportation machine could transport humans, but only from your living room to your kitchen, you would impress many people, but nobody would use your masterpiece.

One of the things that is hardest to accept is the fact that you should be prepared for failure. All the points mentioned above will help you. But, whatever you do, there is no silver bullet for success. You will just have to repeat a try-fail sequence until you finally succeed.

All these points are applicable when you are creating a product. But would they be applicable when exploring a new area, let's say, a new technology? The answer is simple. If you cannot show the result of your work, you will not convince anyone that you are knowledgeable in the area you have explored. To do that, you need to create something that gets people's attention and that shows the benefits of your work.

I would like to give an example by sharing my personal success story. In Zuhlke, we have focus groups. These are groups of people that are interested in a particular area and are putting an effort into exploring it. Some time ago, we started a focus group which explored augmented and virtual reality. We did some investigation and gained the necessary knowledge, but we realized that this was not enough. To show other people our capabilities, we decided to create an app that would give us visibility. We analysed the market and noticed that there were many different shared whiteboard applications, each of them lacking tactile feeling. So, that was our goal. While working on this app, we felt that we were contributing to the world and really cared about this product. The first version we implemented was not even close to final. But it was enough to show that it can be done and that we knew how to do it. Eventually, we were heard and, after some time, we got the commercial project.

There are many other similar examples within our company. What is common to most of them is that they came about as a result of different focus groups. Thanks to these groups, our engineers gained expertise in many different areas. This was helpful for both the company and the engineers themselves. That is why companies should be willing to give some space to their engineers to develop their own ideas.

A journey to success is not a straight line. There is almost no chance that you will simply think of something, make some effort and succeed. However, you can make it easier if you invest your time not only into implementation work, but also into the aspects mentioned above. They might seem less important, but they can significantly reduce your effort and increase your chances of success.

By Bojan Jelaca