The founder and co-owner of the amoCRM company, as well as the author of the book “Sales to People”, Mikhail Tokovinin began doing business at school – he resold used computer equipment. Mikhail had several businesses and many mistakes before he managed to create a stable and successful company, the controlling stake of which was eventually bought out by the 1C giant. But the businessman treats all his mistakes philosophically.
Mikhail Tokovinin will speak on April 7, 2023 in Minsk at the HI-TECH FORUM: EVOLUTION and tell you how to keep business and sales when the market is falling. The editors of Pro Business have collected several bright quotes from the speaker.
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“I didn’t expect people to carry ‘shovels’ in their pockets”
“Every month, at least, I catch myself thinking: “Well, you are a fool! How could you do that…“ It’s about the same as playing chess – and suddenly you don’t notice the game, the scenario, and then get upset that you didn’t see it before. And this happens all the time. Do you have any opinions, prejudices, why this will take off, but this one will not. And then everything turns out differently, and you think: “Eh …”
For example, I once believed very much that tablets would win. And when we did the redesign in 2014, everything was done “under the finger”. But it turned out that smartphones defeated tablets and most of the work remained just on the web. It was my mistake that cost a lot of time and company resources. I didn’t expect people to carry spades in their pockets.”
“Business is a bad idea”
“They go into business not consciously, but because they cannot help but go. I am a supporter of the fact that smart people do not go into business. The brave go there. In general, business is a bad idea. And most people make the right decision not to go there. The probability of success is extremely low: most businesses end in failure. But there are people with some kind of mutation, a feature that cannot help but do this.
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And there’s nothing cool about it. Most often it looks like horror and misunderstanding. My whole first business looked like this. So you meet classmates, and they all already have a job, salary, car, going to bars … And only you have a business. Most businesses end up like this. At the same time, all businessmen are insanely optimistic. Unhealthy optimistic. Well, there is a man some kind of shop. Let’s say he makes shawarma. He argues: “I’m 36. It’s okay, everything is still ahead. Yes, I have a shawarma tent, but soon we will be McDonald’s. And you have a hard time believing it. But when we look at Ovchinnikov (Fyodor Ovchinnikov is the founder of the Dodo Pizza company, which has its own franchise, according to which more than 700 pizzerias are open, – approx. “About business”), who once made the first pizza in the basement in Syktyvkar, the sensations are completely different.
In general, people who do business are strange. Their unhealthy optimism makes these people very stubborn. And then we see just a “survivor error”. 90 out of 100 of these stubborn people will die in this shawarma tent, and 10 will make McDonald’s. We just see only those who succeeded, whose unhealthy obstinacy led to the result. And most of it got a complete ruin. And these are some special character traits that bring people into business.”
“We are losing efficiency due to remote work”
“We have 200 people. Some employees are already working remotely. I have been forced to work remotely in recent years. We have learned. But it does not bring pleasure and joy. Now we are losing efficiency. Until the authorities forbade leaving the house, our position was this: whoever wants to go to the office, let him go. Many walked.
It must be understood that, for example, in the United States, the number of remote employees has grown in recent years solely due to staff shortages. You physically cannot hire a sysadmin in the Valley, so you have to look for him somewhere in Atlanta. But other things being equal, any leader, of course, will put a person in the office.
There are individual companies that can afford to be endlessly inefficient: turquoise, remote, whatever.They are either very rich, or monopolists, or they have a lot of investments. For example, Uber can do anything.
I myself have tried all the tools – it does not work. Our generation learned to communicate with other people in person: in the sandbox, in the classroom, in the office. Nothing can be done about it.”
“I love people who are insecure”
“Business grows not thanks to your efforts, but in spite of your jambs. You should always choose a niche that is growing, where you can afford to screw up and it will still grow. Niche selection is the cornerstone.
If you happened to be in a working system, then do not touch anything for at least six months. My big mistake was that I started positive reforms. Before you reform, you need to figure out how it works. Any system works on complex connections, established relationships. Until you understand everything, you can not touch anything. Coming into a new company, a good CEO for the first six months should not do anything at all, but only sit and watch why it works and how it happened.
You can’t motivate people, you have to hire motivated people. My task was to get the cashiers to say: “Thank you, come to us again.” I spent a year on this, but failed. The solution to this problem is not to force employees to say “Thank you, come visit us again”, but to hire those who say “Thank you, visit us again” themselves. We are not a secondary educational school, “to pull up all the children in mathematics.” Business is much more like a sports team, where your task is to initially find those who fit, select them and develop them. Many businessmen do not understand this, they argue, they say, we need to pull everyone, create a motivation system, KPI.
I have said many times that I love people who are insecure. They reach the highest heights. I don’t like arrogant people. Such a person believes that he has achieved everything and he does not need to learn anything. Self-confident impudent people at the interview ask for more salary, they sell themselves more beautifully and talk about themselves. And products are created by insecure, notorious guys. In business, they are more successful. They say, “I’m not good enough. I need to learn more.” And I’m trying to get into my “football team” those who do beautiful things, and not talk beautifully.
“An important skill is to be able to report to someone”
“If you know how to dampen your pride and obstinacy a little, then you dramatically increase your chances of success. At some point, someone will say that they understand your idea that a round TV is awesome, and he also thinks that TVs will become round, but he will add: you know, what if we make it not round, but oval? You don’t have to completely abandon your idea, but you need to hear feedback. Sometimes hearing means dramatically increasing the chances of success.
The decision not to own 100%, but to do business with partners helped me personally to extinguish my pride. I have shareholders who believed me that the TV should be round, but they can still come to the office and say: “Listen, it looks like an oval will shoot.” When the company is not all yours, sometimes you need to report to someone, and this is an important skill – to be able to report to someone. Yes, it hurts pride, it’s unpleasant. But it actually makes you stronger. Sometimes sit down and say to the shareholders: “I think we’ve screwed up.
But this does not mean that you need to be obedient: if you listen to everyone, you will lose. Henry Ford rightly said, “If I asked what my customers wanted, they would ask for a fast horse.” In no case. You will never create anything big and visionary if you are not crazy and go ahead. Airbnb founder Brian Chesky once said: the idea that someone would rent out a room with an air mattress in their apartment to strangers seemed crazy, everyone was spinning at the temple. But in his case, the TV was not quite round, but a little oval. It struck a balance between visionary perseverance and positive feedback.”
Sources: rutube.ru, thebell.io, ideanomics.ru