TLDR: "Companies need to be vehicles for success for whomever is involved."
I said this many times as we went through the motions of starting Yeti, and was reminded of this just today by my colleague, friend and our creative director Garrett. Two years and many battle scars later I still believe this to be a quintessential truth.
Companies are made out of human beings, this is a fact. With the advent of corporations this was somewhat concealed behind, in lawyer speak, the corporate veil, but in reality it's just that, a veil, hiding a human organization. Every business is comprised of humans with vast arrays of personal interests. My friend Neil Traft might beg to differ but artificial intelligence hasn't quite gotten that far yet.
Every deal that's made whether between employer and employee, client to consultant, company to other company, investor to owner, customer to business when you boil it down is a deal between two human parties. Good deals and generally ones that create value rather than destroy it are mutually beneficial to both parties. They are vehicles to achieving greater success for both parties.
From my limited, three years of experience running a company, I can say all companies need to, on a regular basis, is make deals. With employees, customers, investors, shareholders or partners any business needs to consistently be making deals in order to survive. Therefore in order for any company to survive they need to be able to consistently make successful deals with people to continually add value.
In this case, with Garrett, I was specifically talking about employment and I believe this is something that is easily forgotten within the startup tech elite. Creating vehicles for success for your employees is incredibly important. It's hard given the pressures and demands of ownership to forget this and just see costs and "value add" but it's important to make sure that the human to human tradeoff is fair as well. It's just as important that this is seen in the other direction, from employee to employer, as well.
The big question then becomes how do owners foster these mutually beneficial relationships between everybody involved? At the end of the day, doesn't someone have to lose and someone have to win? For the sake of humanity and our future, I hope not. Being a business owner means you have to be incredibly aware of being on the short end of the stick (or else everybody in your company ends up losing) but if from the formation of your company and onward you look at structuring everything for mutual gain you'll end up with a happy and prosperous company.
It's important to mention as well that mutual gain doesn't just mean financial. Part of the reason I'm trying to make a point of emphasizing the human nature of companies is that money is only a small part of what we as humans care about. Some things, for example, which are more important are education, independence, camaraderie, creativeness, power, happiness, leisure, recognition and freedom. These are all things that as humans we prize far greater than simply dollars (maybe some of folks on Wall St would disagree) and things companies can strive to be vehicles for.
So by all means, if you want to, go and create a company but make sure you're creating something that adds value to everyone involved because at the end of the day that's how we all move forward.
"A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others." -Ayn Rand
Tony Scherba is a CEO + Founding Partner at Yeti. Tony has been developing software since high school and has worked on digital products for global brands such as Google, MIT, Qualcomm, Hershey’s, Britney Spears and Harmon/Kardon. Tony’s writing about innovation and technology has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post and Inc. At Yeti, Tony works on strategy, product design and day to day operations, hopping in and working with the development teams when needed. Follow Tony on Twitter.