People frequently ask why I started ShipHawk. My standard reply is that, from a shipper’s perspective, the industry is flawed and I saw an opportunity for improvement. But that answer is only partially true and I rarely share the other side of the story. Here’s the real why.
Since launching my first enterprise, I’ve always been on the lookout for opportunity. What do people need? What can be made better? I’ve always considered figuring out the why- or the core belief system that drives everyday decisions- to be more of a luxury than a necessity. Of course, this is not true in commoditized markets.
As I’ve developed a better understanding of the world and the complex science behind the people who live in it, that 'why' has become increasingly important in my business decisions. Nobody explains this concept better than Simon Sinek, who wrote Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action and whose corresponding TED talk has been viewed over 21 million times. Simon’s story is told from the consumer’s perspective, which demonstrates that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Why I do it is the other side of the story, the part I rarely share.
The Other Side of the Story: The Real Reason Why I Started ShipHawk
The real reason I started ShipHawk is to empower real people and real businesses to grow and to thrive in an increasingly competitive world.
The world is evolving. Main Street is now nothing more than a tourist attraction thanks to the Walmart and Target sitting just outside town and the often overused Amazon or Alibaba bookmark in your browser. Local, family-owned businesses have been replaced by jobs in massive regional warehouses, where the human is the last great inefficiency and is being rapidly replaced by robots.
To be fair, I’m no Luddite and I’m all for technological improvements, along with Amazon’s right to build a large and efficient company. However, I am also for affording the same rights and opportunities to everyone else. There is something absolutely beautiful about an entrepreneur waking up each day and creating something new for the world. I fear the big guys are getting too powerful and are slowly eating away at those opportunities. For example, Amazon will quickly and easily undercut marketplace sellers, eliminating them as a viable provider, once they see traction for any item they can sell without them.
Now let’s be real. This is our fault. We love the service. We love how easy it is. Heck, I love it. One click and my book shows up. And if I’m in a bind, it will show up with a backpack, a new toothbrush, diapers, and an iPad.
My favorite quote in Simon's speech is, “The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”
Well, this is what I believe: Every entrepreneur matters and should have access to great technology. Every business should be able to compete effectively with competitors, big and small. I believe in both Main Street and Virtual businesses but not one at the expense of the other. And I believe in access. E-commerce has made every item in the world sellable, but not necessarily accessible.
Here’s one last story from Mr. Sinek. "In the summer of 1963, 250,000 people showed up on the Mall in Washington to hear Dr. King speak. They sent out no invitations and there was no website to check the date. He didn’t go around telling people what needed to change in America. He went around telling people what he believed. People showed up because of what they believed about America.”
So there we have it. My bet is that many of you share my beliefs of accessability and efficiency. We should work together to empower real people and real businesses- big or small- to grow and to thrive.