Having a great idea and securing the required funds to launch your startup is not a win. It is just the start of a very challenging journey as an entrepreneur and if one is not careful enough, the dream could be over even before it had a chance to begin! Hence, early-stage entrepreneurs must be mindful of a few things.
While there is no one path to success, there are a few basics that all successful entrepreneurs have aced. Ultimately how successful your product or idea is will be down to its raw potential. However how successful you are in running an enterprise and as a leader of your employees will be down to do these things right, most of the times.
Listen to your employees
Everyone working with you to make your enterprise into a success at such an early stage have these two things in common, by and large.
- They have also taken a risk, joining forces with you. Right now you are as much a nobody as anyone else.
- Your employees, at least your core team, sees promise in your idea or product. If you are excited about it and dreaming of making big, so are they.
These two are reasons why your employees mentally have a certain amount of ownership over the whole enterprise. They are thinking about it too. They want it to succeed too so that they grow with it. Entrepreneurs can feel very lonely at times, having to come up with ideas and solutions all the time. The best part of having employees who are to an extent invested in the idea is that there are minds besides yours working to find solutions, make this a reality. So, listen to your employees. You do not have to agree to their suggestions, but who knows! Every once in a while, an employee might come up with a solution that makes a difference.
Prioritize tasks and Delegate wherever you can
Continuing with the previous point, the employees you hire are there to lessen your load. So as an entrepreneur, you must prioritize your availability for the core tasks only. You must delegate other tasks to others. There are way too many entrepreneurs who burn out due to their involvement in less important, often administrative tasks. In case you don’t have enough people to take care of administration, HR or accounts, hire people. In case hiring locally is a challenge or too expensive, then do not shy away from looking offshore and engaging remote assistants.
Encourage your employees to become multi-skilled
The secret to a fluid workplace which requires minimal resource back-up are multi-skilled and versatile employees. If you are lucky, you will be able to identify them at the time of hiring. However, in most cases, people, especially young people (you being a startup, will attract more young talent than experienced ones) will come to you with one core skill that they have mastered. It is up to you to provide them enough encouragement and resources to become multi-skilled over time.
Keep fine-tuning your strategy
A few months into the business, you would be able to identify with the help of your team, the chinks in your business plan. No business plan is perfect and all ideas need fine-tuning. It is important that you make the necessary changes to the business plan, and do necessary course corrections.
Stay away from the email chain trap
Email chains are the bane of seamless work and for a young organization it is a “vibe” killer! If there is anything that needs to be discussed at length, go out into the bullpen and gather everyone around. Get it done over with in one go. Have meetings and minute them instead of endless email chatter on an issue.
Learn to go offline
If you are always reading emails and replying to chats, then when are you actually working? Divide up your time into segments and ensure that emails and chats are part of just one segment! Some entrepreneurs also check their chats and emails periodically for a short period of 15-20 minutes after every couple of hours or so. That also works.
Short, concise emails
You say it best when you say it in a few short sentences! Long emails are often ignored by many. Apart from taking up your valuable time, important details get lost in a long email. Learn the art of short emails. Short emails are also better retained by people. If you are taking a no-frills approach in business, why not carry it forward to your email habits!
Learn to switch off
Yes, it is your idea and it is understandable that you are worried and excited about it all at once. Be so, since you can hardly help it. However being that person all the time will have serious repercussions on your effectiveness as the engine driving the business. Like all engines, you shall heat up too and then your performance is bound to sink. Once in a while, just take a break. Not a long one, just enough to get your bearings back.
Focus on highly targeted marketing campaigns only
One of the biggest mistakes young entrepreneurs make, especially the ones with a little extra budget, is to go hammer and tongs after every visible segment, when it comes to marketing the product or idea. The idea is the more the merrier. It does not work too well. You only end up spending a lot of needless capital on campaigns with little show for it. Instead, early entrepreneurs should adopt a highly targeted and scientific approach to market their goods or services.
Avoid employee lawsuits
Nothing kills a young business as effectively and ruthlessly as a hefty employee lawsuit. There are a few steps you can take to minimize the risk of employee lawsuits.
- Opt for insurance that can insulate you from this. The insurance company will deal with the employee in your stead (the premiums can be very high though)
- Engage good legal counsel from Day 1 (though they might be pricey and there is no guarantee they are full proof)
- Outsource as much of the work as possible offshore, keeping only a very small, core staff around you. (When employees will be based offshore, they cannot sue you)