Founder Chairman, Guardian Pharmacy | Entrepreneur | Startups Mentor | Author: The Corner Office | The Buck Stops Here - Learnings of a Startup Entrepreneur | Reinvent Reboot Rewire. Managing Retirement in 21st Century | An Eye for an Eye
Monday, 23 January 2017
Learnings for Startup Entrepreneurs
Building a new company is itself a
As the founder, you have to adapt,
accept, adjust, create, innovate, motivate and deliver. You need to function as
the Chief Executive Officer on the one hand and the Chief Janitor on the other.
No task can be too large or too small for you. Yet it is important to be a
learning entrepreneur so that your 24 hours in the day are optimally utilised
for the benefit of your people and your business.
Sharing information about what is
going on in your startup will help in bringing a level of awareness and hence
the commitment to the business plan. However, sharing information should be
done on a “need to know” principle. Therefore sharing the detailed financials
of the company with the junior most employee may not necessarily be a very wise
Adjust your management style
As you build your startup, your
small team of colleagues will expand and the people closest to you will start
to feel insecure of the new entrants because you will not be able to spend as
much time your old colleagues as you used to. At the same time, your new
colleagues will want more and more of your time so that they can deliver what
they have committed to achieve. You will need to adjust the way you manage all
your colleagues without letting anyone feel insecure or unwanted.
Lead by example
Most startups need long hours and
while you, as the founder, are willing to work 24 X 7, your colleagues may not
necessarily feel the same level of commitment. Lead by example. When your
colleagues see you doing things that they would normally not do, the barriers will
start to break down and everyone would be willing to put their weight behind
the success of the business.
Empower through delegation
You would like to believe that no
one can do the task better than yourself but remember that there is a challenge
in trying to be a “jack of all and master of none”. If you have had the
foresight to hire a good management team, empower them properly and delegate
tasks so that you have the time and the energy to focus on other matters that
your startup needs you to focus on. Besides, your functional heads will have a
much better understanding of the issues in their departments than you would.
Set small “bite-sized” milestones
While developing ambitious
business plans, please remember to break the big set of numbers into
“bite-sized” achievable numbers that people can deliver. For young companies,
you will need quick wins to keep a very diverse team of people motivated and
committed to working towards the bigger goal.
Remove road blocks and obstacles
See your own role as that of the
person who leads the team that will shoot the goal as well as the person who
defends the goal. Cut down bureaucracy within your young company. You need to
set a scorching pace and as the people start to gather momentm, you need to keep
running ahead of then so that you can keep removing and clearing all the road
blocks and obstacles.
Give and take feedback
Giving regular feedback is a much
better process than to wait till the end of the year and then give your
feedback during the annual appraisal cycle. Regular feedback will help your
colleagues to course correct as the event happens than wait till the year end.
While giving your feedback, remember to ask for feedback as well from your
colleagues about what they think about the organisation, your plans and
possibly on your own management style. An open culture will foster strong bonds
between colleagues and an excellent work culture.
Be judicious with your time
Most founders get involved with
every little detail of the business resulting in key tasks that the founder
should handle personally getting a lower priority. The same applies when a
founder tries to micro manage every employee of the company. You need to be
able to focus your time on key tasks and manage the key people. How you define
“key” is something you will understand very quickly in your startup when you
realise that you seem to be fire-fighting all the time!
Keep your eye on the road
As the founder who has probably
invested your life savings in your business venture, make sure that you keep
your eye on the road. Keep a close track of your expenses and your revenues.
After all this investment is your hard earned money and you need to ensure that
it is spent effectively.
Work hard but remember to have fun
Every management team wants to
make their work environment interesting and a place they look forward to going
to every day. Informal get togethers as a team inside and outside the work
place supports bonding among team members. Show a little bit of your own
vulnerabilities at fun events and you will be surprised at how much team
members will start to share with you.
Say a sincere thanks whenever you
Startups can be very high pressure
environments and not everyone is able to handle the pressure. At the same time,
everyone likes a word of appreciation from the boss. Coming from the founder, a
simple “thank you” carries a lot of weight. Be generous with your appreciation.
Your colleagues will love you for this.
Undoubtedly, these are a tough set
of learnings that need to be implemented by most founders but then starting up
a new enterprise was never going to be easy!
The author is the founder Chairman of
Guardian Pharmacies and the author of 5 best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent.
Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for
an Eye; The Buck Stops Here - Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck
Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.