Meeting the needs of industry

Ever since committing to the idea of creating a company where we can actually help people (rather than make a quick buck), I’ve been studying the industry. The industry being what companies need, what people want, and how to meet them both in the middle. Except the needs of the industry aren’t exactly clearly communicated.

But in the rush to do all the things, I had lost sight of this.

If you’ve ever started a business, you know what I mean. You wear all the hats: accounting, HR, marketing, customer service, production, and more. All this on top of the actual money-making activities like working with clients. For the last two years I’ve seldom done any market research, taking notes on what clients are saying they want, what science business are saying they want, or what scientists are trying to achieve.

Spoiler alert: This is a disastrous way to build a company.

Sure, I started compile a list of things we could do, a list of potential ways to help families educate their kids in science and math, different ways to build the apprenticeship part of the company. Different clients to reach out to. Different business to reach out to.

But, I didn’t actually do anything. I just focused on the task at hand, helping a specific client or three at a time get past their hurdles. While this is great for the clients and customer services, it wasn’t building.

In the consulting world they like to say this is working in your business instead of on it.

I scoff at this. After all, the people telling me this are consultants. They are leading group work telling people this stuff, occasionally doing 1-on-1 work, and charging a lot more than what it seems like they are worth for their words. Seriously, you can get the same advice with the same level of assistance from a free library book. You really don’t need to pay hundreds for their classes to hear them say the same things you’d hear from a book or YouTube video.

That’s not how I run Insanitek. We work for the everyday person trying to make ends meet. I won’t charge hundreds of dollars for a few scant hours of actual work for a virtual product with minimal interaction with me. (If you expect me to come out to your place and teach your kids personally, that’s a different matter.) That’s why I scoff at them.

But they have a point. You can’t serve more people, nor provide for more colleagues working wages, if you aren’t growing your business. And that means working on it, not in it.

Meeting the needs of the industry is not easy.

I’ve worked with clients for 3.5 years now. I think I know the myriad of personalities, hopes, and dreams fairly well by now. I can pick out similarities of my students and the parents that raise them. I can pick out the things that make them unique as well. When I listen to what they want, it’s pretty idealistic.

When I listen to what business want of their incoming employees, it’s also fairly idealistic, but not overly unreasonable. Being able to be independent and following directions are top on the list. Being able to communicate effectively in both writing and verbally is second highest. Of course, skills are an obvious during these conversations.

Businesses and academics talk about plugging the skills gap. Students, the ones that are doing the work, talk about working at a company and making a difference in the world.

Do you see where the separation is? Companies often want to plug a hole, but workers want to feel important, even in a tiny way.

Insanitek’s job will be to help both get what they want out of life.