I wanted to build amazing products. I wanted to be at the intersection between really smart folks who could do anything with code, as well as smart people who understood the market. I wanted to run a team that designed solutions everyone would use.
I was 25 and only a year or two into my time at Berkeley Lab – as a systems analyst, which was better than data entry but not where I wanted to be. So I had a conversation with my boss and mentor. His question to me was profound, and clearly unexpected.
What makes you think you can’t do all of that with the team you already have?
He was referencing my small team of 4 folks. Four. As in the number that comes after three, and right before five. To me, at that point, I had a lot of ideas of what success looked like, but none of them started with a small team of four.
I don’t know about you, but the idea that to do something incredible requires a lot of people was something that just existed in my brain. It wasn’t submitted there. I didn’t read it or learn it. It just was there.
Until the question.
So I started doing research. The folks behind the fancy pivot tables in Excel? A team of two. The folks that put a magnetic strip on the back of an ATM to let you get out a couple hundred dollars? A tiny team of three. Another team of three at Bell Labs put together the first transistor.
Who knew that three people could do so much?
It’s been a long time since I was 25. And thankfully, I’ve had the life I wanted – working at that intersection, leading engineering teams, and launching software products for almost twenty years.
And every now and then I hear people talk about their need to build a bigger team in order to realize their dreams. But the truth is that sometimes a small team can get more done simply because there’s less communication challenges and faster clarity.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a big team. They do great things too. I’m just saying that the pre-requisite to doing amazing work isn’t a large group of people.
Can I tell you about three friends of mine?
Pippin Williamson created an eCommerce system that I told you a bit about yesterday, Easy Digital Downloads. It has “easy” in the name. So you know it’s pretty simple to use, right? Well, he’s been at work, selling and supporting it.
Carrie Dils is a Genesis developer – someone who also does things with WordPress, but she often builds themes and plugins (often that rely on the Genesis framework).
Mika Epstein is known online as ipstenu. She works for Dreamhost, keeps several WordPress blogs going at once, and has forgotten more about WordPress multisite than any of us has ever learned.
The Goal is Quality. The Result is often Speed
There are folks out there that put WordPress in a box – of what it can or can’t do. They declare it’s not for eCommerce – even simple stuff.
There are folks out there that don’t like using WordPress theme frameworks, like Genesis, because it’s just more stuff. It makes things more complicated to learn. It’s extra.
If you listen, you’ll hear the folks that want to highlight all that is wrong in the world.
But here’s the thing. Without knowing it, both Pippin and Carrie were working, in advance, to help Mika find success – because they were helping WordPress do more, and leveraging frameworks to deliver high quality.
Pippin’s EDD turns WordPress into an eCommerce platform – which does many cool things, but excels creating a WordPress eBook store. Carrie’s theme runs on top of Genesis, and gives people a great and versatile child theme.
And all of this results in creating an eBook store that took Mika less than a day (when she thought it might take many days).
- People build plugins, like Pippin, to give us great quality features.
- People build themes like Carrie, to give us a great quality look to our site.
- But what folks like Mika get is speed.
And when time is money, speed is a very good thing indeed. Especially when you’re creating a store that makes you money.
By the way, if you want an eBook on WordPress multisite, here’s a discount code for you – PAY50 – it will give you a 50% off discount.
What about you?
Are you ready to create your own online store? I told you yesterday about two great options. Maybe you were waiting for a big team. Or a big budget? Or a lot of time.
Well, know this, it might be much faster and easier than you ever thought.