In my youth my father gave me what would turn out to be one of the most profound pieces of advice I have ever received. He told me, partly in jest, “Son – marry up.”
Back then I laughed at his weird comment, but I have had enough travels in my life to now have the perspective to truly appreciate the wisdom in his seemingly silly request, and I’m enjoying the benefits of heeding his advice.
What does “Marry up” mean anyway? It means to be confident and competent in your own skills, yet always be seeking to improve in areas where you are not so strong. It means to be open to exploring new ideas and to embrace others with differing skill sets and personalities. When this happens, you are better with someone than when you were without. You learn, you grow, you evolve. To quote Austin Powers, it means finding someone to whom you can genuinely say, “You complete me.”
Not only did I apply this in my personal life when I “married up” by marrying the love of my life, I’ve had great success with this principle in my professional career as well. It’s this that I’d like to speak to you about today.
I love being a part of the Fishbowl team. Who wouldn’t love being a part of the market leader in any space, and at that with a company that values its employees and customers alike? We’ve had unprecedented success and all signs point north that that should continue well into the future (knocking on all wood around me as I say this). Our customers shower us with praise and it is a true pleasure to be able to serve them.
But even a company like Fishbowl will eventually reach a crossroads where its next best leap in growth and expansion, and ability to serve its customer base, will come by finding other relationships to “marry up.”
For years I’ve helped small to medium size businesses (and some very large ones) get a handle on their inventory and order management needs and processes. They love that they can become more organized, cut costs and increase profits; the ROI is amazing!
But as we got bigger and improved the Fishbowl Inventory product, we continued to get requests for features that our customers needed that were a bit outside of our core competency. It wasn’t that Fishbowl wasn’t working for them or that our features were lacking; it’s that our customers were identifying new features and technology products that would complement Fishbowl and help those customers make that next leap of growth and simplify their operations.
Shopping cart, EDI ability, merchant-service integration, hosted services and others were being requested more and more as we grew. Despite the obvious benefit of having those products, we were faced with the fact that they weren’t our forte. Could we invest in those skill sets by hiring new employees who possessed them? How much would that cost, and how much R&D expense would be needed? How long would it be before we could bring these products to market, and how long before we were experts in those spaces to be able to compete and make an impact? Could we produce these offerings without losing focus on our core product? These were scary questions that we had to answer.
We decided as a company that the best solution was to start “marrying up.” We created the Fishbowl Partner Nation and started building relationships with other market leaders that could integrate their software with Fishbowl Inventory and help us to evolve without distracting us from our core competency. These relationships would be critical in giving our customers the best technology that they had been asking for.
The results were almost immediate for everyone involved. We helped our customers with new solutions and increased the value of the Fishbowl Inventory product line at the same time. Each Fishbowl partner we added saw increases in sales and tremendous value to their product. New ideas emerged through collaboration on product development, which opened our eyes to new possibilities in our own product line.
As the Fishbowl Partner list grows and more Partners are added, we are able to serve more industries without having to “teach an old dog new tricks,” if you will. Our partners are making the Fishbowl product even better by adding new features all the time.
It’s important to note that we are careful about who we let into our circle. We hold our partners to the same high standards that we hold ourselves to when it comes to quality and performance. Our brand and, more importantly, our customers deserve nothing less. Consequently, there are times when we say no to a potential partnership.
The new Fishbowl Partner Marketplace is scheduled to make its debut on August 1, 2012. It will help to spotlight these great partnerships. When speaking to your sales consultant, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and ask about features like a shopping cart for your website. We have several top-tier partners already providing these with direct integration to work with Fishbowl. We’ll coordinate the sale of each piece so that it’s implemented correctly.
For Fishbowl, “marrying up” has created many opportunities to better serve our customers. We continue to be the best in what we do and offer, and at the same time bring other emerging-technology products that fit Fishbowl like a glove. Cool, isn’t it?
Little did my father know the great benefits he was preparing me for when he offered his sage advice so many years ago. Thanks, Dad!