It was a rainy Friday afternoon and the last session for the day at the Wharton Graduate Retail Conference. I vividly remember thinking “Should I address building a business from a cultural and people standpoint? And if so, how do I make sure that the key takeaways are clear for entrepreneurs in the room?”
Looking back, I’ve come to recognize that being an entrepreneur is a mindset that is focused on building all parts of an organization. Jeff was no different. His success relies on the people he is building with on a daily basis. This was the first of a number of key lessons I took away from my conversation with Jeff. Of course, there are many other key ingredients that have contributed to Harry’s meteoric rise to its billion-dollar valuation, but I’ve identified the three that resonated most.
Focus on simple but better
Building a business doesn’t have to be difficult. The eyeglasses and men’s shaving market were both dominated by a large single industry player that offered endless amounts of variety – unnecessarily in most cases. Jeff’s strategy of “simple but better” garnered support with consumers who wanted a transparent price, quality, and straight-forward marketing. Jeff also realized that focusing on simple but better worked when he breaks down high-level business problems that the team faced into its component parts. This process of distilling things made building Harry’s much more manageable.
Build a brand that speaks to customers in the way they want to be spoken to
Too often brands have focused on creating advertisements that explain some new feature or technology. Jeff shared how he built Harry’s to be different by taking an approach that is rooted in taking feedback from the customer to iterate on product and messaging.
Cultivate a values-driven culture
“Look left to find right” is a value statement at Harry’s that means employees should trust the knowledge that exists within the organization; essentially, relying on teammates to help solve problems. Increasingly, people are choosing to work at companies that share their personal values. In my own experience, I’ve witnessed how effective this is when assessing competitive advantages. At Harry’s, this allows them to attract and maintain top talent.