Zoom is a company born out of a frustration and passion. During my 14 years as VP of engineering for WebEx and subsequent time at Cisco, I spent a lot of time talking to customers. To me, customers are of the utmost importance, and unhappy customers are a sure sign of a failure. I could see that our customers were not happy, so I decided that the only way to solve our customers’ problems was to build a better video communications solution from the ground up. Cisco wasn’t on board, so I struck out on my own (and I was grateful to the dozens of engineers that joined me within a couple months).
While success did not come overnight, in a relatively short period of time, Zoom has grown to employ almost 1,000 people worldwide, connects millions of people over our video communication services, and has been valued at $1 billion.
For me, the secret to successfully growing a business quickly comes down to an accumulation of factors, several of which I’ll discuss, but the most important is happiness.
Happy employees equals happy customers
My approach to business is all about creating happiness on the journey. If your employees are just working toward some goal in the distant future, every day between now and then will be a slog and they may not care about the seemingly little things that have a big impact on the customer experience. I stay focused on making my customers and employees happy on a day-to-day basis, whether it’s by responding to an email quickly, sending a gift or flowers, publicly acknowledging someone who has done a great job, or following up with someone about a concern they had.
Unfortunately, many companies see happiness at work as an intangible ‘nice to have’, rather than an important organisational priority. While you can’t force employees to be happy – or control every factor that contributes to happiness – it’s still possible to create the conditions that will help to promote happiness and positivity at work.
Hire the right people and encourage a caring culture
Some people will say that business is solely about money. It’s not. It’s about people. Before you can even think about your company’s growth, you need to ensure that you have a solid team of passionate, intelligent, and forward-thinking people – a team that are loyal and with you for the ride. look for lifelong learners and typically ask people what book they’ve read most recently. This can give a good indication as to whether they are self-motivated, proactive people.
At Zoom, caring is a core value and we ensure that the company is made up of caring people, starting at the hiring process. We evaluate candidates on whether we believe they embrace the value of caring and can deliver happiness for others. If they embrace our core value of caring and want to deliver happiness, then they will be self-motivated and will work harder for their teammates and customers.
Develop a mantra or acronym to stay focused
As a leader, it’s important to stay focused on what’s important to my business even though I’m pulled in a million different directions. I developed an acronym that I can reflect on every morning to help keep me and the team focused – it’s called DEPCC.
D for Direction, E for Employees, P for Product, C for Customers, and C for Cash flow.
First, I ask myself: are we headed in the right direction? I think of the company as a big ship and I review our coordinates – key company information I’m given every day – to ensure we’re heading in the right direction. Then I consider if my leadership team and I are doing all we can to ensure Zoom employees are happy. Does anyone have concerns, or is someone ill or going through a hard time? Do I need to recognise someone’s extraordinary efforts? I also focus on our products. For example, has a project been delayed or faced unexpected obstacles? How can I help? ‘C’ stands for customers. Are we working as hard as we can to meet our customers’ priorities and to address any problems as thoroughly and quickly as possible? Are we doing all we can to make sure they know we care about them and their business? Finally, I consider cash flow. Are our revenues and expenses on track?
One trait that successful businesses often have in common, is the ability to switch directions quickly in response to changes in the market. It’s called ‘failing fast’ on the weaker ideas, but scaling quickly on the stronger ones. Being adaptable to development and looking at your current model and changing it should it need to adapt will help you grow more quickly.
Concentrate on the customer experience
A customer’s perception of your business can really make or break you. Customer experience and word-of-mouth can help your product go viral or stop you in your tracks. At Zoom, of course we want to disrupt the market positively; however, we are more focused keeping our existing customers happy. As a growing business, you have the advantage of often being able to see, anticipate, and respond to customer’s needs quickly. You can bring new and innovative services to market faster and build more nurturing relationships. It’s essential to listen to your customers in real-time and to not be afraid to admit it and work to make things right when you have made a mistake.
Love what you do
Success doesn’t always mean money, fame, and power. It means being happy and enjoying the job that you do. If you don’t feel passionately about the industry you’re in and what you’re trying to achieve, you’re in the wrong line of work and you will struggle to make it a success. When people ask me about work-life balance, I think they have the wrong perspective. I am not trying to balance against my work; I love my work and I do what I can to ensure my colleagues feel the same way. As the great Steve Jobs once said: ‘The only way to do great work is to love what you do’.
Eric Yuan is CEO and founder of Zoom Video Conferencing