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Mission-Driven Leadership: Solving Issues in the Supply Chain Industry with Test Automation

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By Josh Owen, CEO and Co-founder

Every client wants to feel unique. But there are commonalities that also unite clients. Cycle’s aim is to address these shared needs to better all clients — and that’s what makes the challenge of building and growing a company so rewarding. 

Despite filing our first patent back in 2018, I still don’t really see myself as an entrepreneur — at least not in the traditional sense of the word. I didn’t launch Cycle Labs with the intent to grow it and provide shareholder value. I just like solving problems, and the problem I set out to solve required investment to build a complex solution.

I’ve learned a lot over the course of Cycle’s evolution. Here are some of my greatest insights as I reflect on our journey to date to modernize enterprise solution deployment and lower risk through test automation.

The Birth of Cycle Labs

Cycle Labs was spun out from a logistics implementation services company. A former boss, and later a colleague — who had accrued over 20 years’ experience — taught me many business lessons and much of what I know today about warehouse management systems (WMS).

Test automation is the crux of what we do, but evolving from supply chain into other industries like healthcare and finance is where we ultimately plan to go.

Complex software systems underpin most (if not all) businesses, and Cycle works with clients to ensure these systems run smoothly. Test automation is not specific to the supply chain space: It just happened to be where we got our start.

Understanding and Solving Problems For Clients

The company began from a need to help solve problems for clients, which required more of the right people: When you’re growing a company, you want to work with the very best.

The best people know how to solve difficult problems. Solving more of these problems proves competency — clients know that you can get the job done, and get it done well.

You’re not just solving financial problems through cost-cutting efforts. It’s about vision: having a mission of focusing on a common purpose of giving clients time and freedom back through the introduction of system changes. You’re making lives better.

More Clients, More Problems (A Good Thing)

Cycle grew organically out of snowballing relationships which required necessary, additional hires. You could say I became an entrepreneur by accident.

By providing a soft landing for former mentors and colleagues, Cycle’s core team was able to continue to focus on running projects for clients, while the CEO could focus on scaling the business.

Cycle’s team of industry veterans was perfectly suited to grow (and offer more to our clients). 

It turned out that with so many engineers, building enterprise software was a possibility for us — but it’s expensive and difficult. In another lucky streak, we chose one thing to focus on and that one thing that gained traction when we consulted clients. And so Cycle Labs grew — out of the desire to hire the best people to help more clients solve even more problems.

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Building Company Culture

Trying to be high-quality gatekeepers in the software startup world doesn’t work. You can’t oversee everything. That’s where Cycle’s meteoric revenue and employee growth comes from.

Cycle launched with 25 people. I worked round the clock month-in, month-out to build everything — internal systems, methodologies, hiring practices, and benefits programs — from the ground up. 

Cycle is 100% remote and so we’re especially proactive about company culture. Culture is something that is going to exist — which means you can control and make it something, or let it evolve naturally. We choose to focus on building the culture we want.

For example, one of our former employees is a veteran who created challenge coins carrying Cycle’s core values on them. I didn’t create that — he did. Out of excitement about our culture. Our culture exudes from our employees, and hiring more people who are aligned with our culture perpetuates it.

The Magic Ingredients of Business Success

Realizing your own skill set may not align with business growth is a sign you need to hire someone else. This is a big part of Cycle Labs’ culture. I’m not really an expert at anything — I am, however, good at doing something well enough to keep it alive until we can bring in someone who has the needed expertise.

The same goes for choosing the right idea. We moved forward on gut instinct about what we thought would be hard to duplicate, had less competition, and was a niche area that gave us a head start.

But there are other aspects you need to be more deliberate about. Starting a business involves people who are dependent on its success. I’ve never been focused on financial success — I want to solve problems and I need help to do that. People trust me, the company vision, and that we’re making the right decisions. In turn, I do everything I can to take care of them — and this makes me proud regardless of hitting goals.

If you’re building a company, know that you can’t do it alone. As soon as you can release control by bringing in someone you can trust, do so. 

Be sincere and care about others: It’s the foundation of building a great company. In my accidental journey, I’ve learned that entrepreneurship is far from quick and easy. I’ve gotten a lot wrong, but in doing so, I’ve learned what’s right. The journey is long and hard, but so worth it. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This article was based on an episode of the Founder Shares podcast, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen.

If you have questions about Cycle Labs or my entrepreneurial journey, do not hesitate to connect with me on LinkedIn. You can also learn more about the WMS Go Live, our success stories, or the Cycle platform.

 

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