Know Thy Company
Understand a company and market, quickly.
It’s been an eventful two weeks since the last issue. I hosted two events for 3,000+ people (cool), got featured on the front page of Fast Company (cool)—and my AC unit stopped working (not cool, literally).
I’m wrapping up this series on job interviews—this will either be the last or second last article, so if you’ve found this useful, hit reply and let me know. I just might continue writing on the topic.
And I started something new (bottom of the article). I spend an absurd amount of time scrolling on the internet, combing through interesting reads and resources, so I figured I’d start sharing some of them with you.
Let’s dig in.
Today, I’ll share how you can use a simple framework to understand a company and market in depth.
You have 24 hours to prepare for a job interview with a new company in a new industry, with customers that you’re unfamiliar with. How do you become an expert overnight?
Extreme scenario - I know, but likely not unheard of for a master procrastinator like me (and maybe you).
Here’s what most people would do:
Browse the company website
Watch a YouTube video or two
Ask a few friends about the company
There is no structured and comprehensive approach, which leads to missed insight and a missed opportunity.
After hundreds of repetitions of preparing for interviews and doing research on companies, I’ve discovered a framework that I now use whenever I need to quickly understand a company.
It goes like this:
Assess the company’s history, capabilities, and current state of the business.
What’s the history of the company?
What’s the culture?
What are the company’s goals and objectives?
What products are offered?
What’s the company mission and brand about?
Understand the people with whom the company works with to maintain it’s edge.
Who are the stakeholders?
What vendors, partners or distributers does the company work with?
What complementary organizations does the company work with?
Evaluate the customers and users of the company’s products. What problem is it solving for them and why do they love it?
Who does your company serve?
Why do they love the product?
What are the core user groups?
What are their needs?
What do they think of the products?
Understand the competitive space, their positioning, and strengths and weaknesses.
Who are the competitors?
How are they different?
How intense is the competitive rivalry?
Do research on the external factors that, regardless of the company’s effort, can affect the performance of the business.
Political state: taxation policy, trade regulations, unemployment policy, etc.
Economic state: inflation rate, interest rate, the proportion of pensioners, etc.
Social-cultural state: values, beliefs, religion, education, etc.
Technological state: social media, Internet, research and development, etc.
Environmental state: waste disposal, energy consumption, pollution, etc.
Legal state: labor law, advertising regulations, product safety, etc.
Which external factors affect the company?
What “wave” is this company riding?
What stage of growth is the industry in?
Done right, this exercise should give you a comprehensive understanding of a company and the market in a few hours. You’ll be more educated, informed, and sound a lot smarter when you talk about the company.
Use the framework to prepare for things like interviews, coffee chats, and panel discussions. It’s a valuable tool to keep in your back pocket whenever you need to quickly evaluate a company.
Bonus: use Reddit to find a hot take, or a somewhat controversial point of view to bring to the discussion. It’ll help you stand out and make you appear more much knowledgable than you are.
📌 Andrew’s Picks
Fascinating internet things I’ve come across:
Dashing Dog, Searching For Purpose — Focus on things that fascinate you, no matter how uncharacteristic. A short piece on finding purpose by Derek Sivers.
Proof You Can Do Hard Things — A motivating short essay by Nat Eliason on doing hard things like building a habit, learning a skill, taking a risk, and why it is one of the most powerful gifts you can give yourself.
Practice Analytically, Perform Intuitively — One of my favorite pieces from David Perell. Practice rigorously and analytically, but when you perform—trust yourself and surrender yourself to your ability.
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🖼️ Behind the Scenes
P.S. here’s a sneak peak of where the magic (chaos) happens.