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BUSINESS INSIGHTS FROM THE CO-FOUNDER OF SQUARE

Published on April 30, 2020

INBOUND Team

Running a business today requires innovation.  

 

INBOUND 2020 Spotlight Speaker Jim McKelvey, Co-Founder of Square and author of The Innovation Stack, joined INBOUND Studio's Laura Moran to discuss building resilience during times of uncertainty in a session on INBOUND LIVE.   Square, was founded by Jack Dorsey and Jim during the last recession.  The platform helps millions of businesses providing the tools and resources needed to succeed as business owners.   

 

“So don't just limit yourself in finding some expert telling you what to do, this is the time to invent.”

- Jim Mckelvey

 

We captured a few key insights from Jim to share with you as you continue to adapt, build and strengthen your resilience. Be sure to tune into INBOUND LIVE every Wednesday, to join the discussion with INBOUND Alumni, upcoming speakers and more.

 

Insight #1: Always Looks for for Solvable Problems

Square originally began during the last recession about 10 years ago. Jim McKelvey and Co-Founder Jack Dorsey, wanted to provide tools for small businesses, to give them a chance to process card payments like  companies larger than they were. The first product that they created was a card reader.  Now, Square provides everything from payroll, to gift cards, offers a cash app and even provides an entire tool kit for businesses to sell directly to consumers as they face new challenges. 

 

 

"What Square has been doing since day one is building tools for smaller companies that the bigger companies always had,” shared Jim. “But the basic theme is “give the tools” so essentially when the crisis hit, what we realized was a lot of tools we built were very useful for our customers even customers who haven't been using the tools, so if you had been paying your customers in cash or not having gift cards or not having curbside pick up, so the best thing we thought to do was let's make it all free because we want people to use them. We now have been approved to give out these SMB loans."

 

Insight #2: Now is the time for innovation and adaptability

Dealing with the impact of pressure on businesses can come down to its innovation stack. Established processes are not a guaranteed recipe for success. 

 

 

"Innovation if done in a certain way is incredibly durable and it is really hard to kill a company with an innovation stack. Big companies have big, established processes that have helped make them the big companies they are. Now you throw chaos into the mix and the established process is out the window. There is no way to have business as usual. How, how are you going to control 30 thousand people without that structure? These smaller, more nimble companies, they do really well not that they would want a chaotic situation but there is something about it that really works.”

Insight #3: Silver Linings Exist

While the current economic and health crisis is very real and very challenging for nearly everyone, it does not mean that hope and opportunity no longer exist. There are companies that we know and love today that were created in the midst of a crisis and there will likely be household brands that we are all talking about in 10 years time that are being formed right now.

 

 

"I don't want to paint a big smiley face on this pandemic but I will tell you this if you are small, if you are evolving an innovation stack like these companies that I studied, almost assuredly you will be relatively better off than everybody else,” explained Jim. “Every company I have studied has faced a calamity. Somehow a combination of innovation and calamity is an enhancer, accelerator… it enhances the power of innovation and is multiplied in chaotic time.”

Insight #4: Live your truth

You might get some pushback from your friends, family and people that you trust if you're thinking of starting a business right now. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't start the business that you've been looking to build. 

 

 

“One of the things I found if doing something that is truly innovative you will almost always take a lot of grief from normal people, smart intelligent well meaning people who are your friends and family the folks that you trust will all tell you are nuts and you will feel that way because in fact you are doing something that is fundamentally different,” explained Jim. “And if you are doing something that is fundamentally different people will worry for you and say why the hell would you do that, go get a job at a big company run to safety. People who run in opposite directions have very little competition especially as a start up you can gather resources that are untouchable in a normal economy.

Insight #5: Entrepreneurship finds you, not the other way around

“Some of the greatest entrepreneurs in the world didn't want to be there. Jack and I, we didn't know it would be this tough…And yet people who are exceptionally successful have been in similar situations and not volunteer and they don't have to be bold,” said Jim. “Sometimes you are just in a terrible situation and you have to deal with it. When we have a problem that no one else has figured out before you can't copy. So most of these businesses that were running just fine we're copying. We are going to need new stuff which sucks and is scary but that is what we are forced to do.

Insight #6: There’s no time like the present

When it comes to the timing of starting a business, don’t be discouraged by the current challenges. 

 

 

“I'm not gonna call the bottom of this and sit there and say it's a great time to start a business but that said, it probably is,” shared Jim. “The thing I learned about timing is that the right time always feels early. An easy way to think about it is if you feel like it's the right time, probably 50 other people also feel like it's the right time and you are too late and have already missed the jump. So I think that there are probably a bunch of massive companies that are just getting started right now and you won't notice them until their innovation stacks take hold and you will go ‘why didn't we see that?’”

 

For the INBOUND 2020 Audience

"What I want to leave the audience with is some of the greatest entrepreneurs in the world didn't want to be there. Jack and I, we didn't know it would be this tough…And yet people who are exceptionally successful have been in similar situations and not volunteer and they don't have to be bold… Sometimes you're in a terrible situation and you have to deal with it.

 

 

When we have a problem that hasn't been figured out, you can't copy. So most of these businesses that were running just fine were copying. We are going to need new stuff which sucks and is scary but that is what we are forced to do. "

 

- Jim McKelvey, Co-Founder Square

INBOUND 2020 Spotlight Speaker

 

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