A very good friend of mine has a software company. One of those companies that write software for others. You look for a customer, build something to suit their needs, hope for a follow-up order, look for a new customer, etc. Countless companies are extremely successful doing this – some of them are well-known, others are hidden champions. Here is a list of the best ones I know:
My friend’s company is unfortunately not quite that successful – there are certainly many reasons for this. But recently I was talking to him again about another aspiring company: Workpath. As I raved about them, how brilliant their development is, my friend said: “Sure, but that is a one-product company. You cannot compare them to us, we serve several technologies.” Immediately, I remembered Jetbrains, a larger company with several products. But they became well-known from one single product: IntelliJ.
What do we want to do, what do we not want to do?
In my view, the success of these other companies is easy to explain: They focused and made themselves into something unique. I know the story of one of the companies listed above. Menlo Innovations made a name for themselves with the way they develop software. The software from Menlo should make you happy. The employees are so dedicated to the way they develop – for example, with Pair Programming and Human Centric Design – that customers must first spend a day observing how Menlo operates. Only then does Menlo decide if they will accept the customer. The founders of Liip told me how they emerged from the Open Source Community and held this position already at the start: “We only do what we feel like doing. Also, we want to work self-organized and agile.” Today, Liip is one of the top innovative software solution companies in Switzerland. Codecentric placed their focus on insurance and adopted agile development early on. For TNG, it was clear right at the beginning: We only work in the Munich area and only hire the best employees (many top graduates). And DENOVO is a software company from Graz which has been successful with app development – and that based on an agile fixed-price.
What does this tell us? Focus has many faces, but always comes down to the same thing: If you want to be successful, you must concentrate on one thing. For example, it is wonderful to see how Dr. Miriam Sasse and Joachim Pfeffer are penetrating the agile transformation market with their specialization in Open Space Agility. They have focus. If you want to hear about their product, come to Transform to Agile.
That is the secret of a successful company and anyone who takes on something: focus on one thing.