It’s been over four years, since I started my entrepreneurial journey, and like any other startup founder, have had my shares of highs and lows. While it’s a long mile ahead, I, certainly had some interesting learnings along the way, which has helped me, become a better person and a better professional.
Sharing five of the most important lessons here, which I feel may benefit my peers, as well as, key employees at start-ups.
Have a bias for ‘action’
I do not believe in sleeping over solutions. There’s no point taking extra time thinking over a problem or an issue, unless you anticipate a crucial development or awaiting substantial factual updates. Taking quick action on challenges opens doors to a host of solutions, which could help solve the problem faster. This does not mean rushing into an uninformed decision, but means that once the facts and information is gathered, no point spending inordinate time in circular thinking or complex analysis.
Assign right job to the right people
While most startups prefer to be lean in size, identifying the most capable person for a particular task is extremely crucial.
When we started, there was a friendship with initial key employees. Sometimes roles were assigned to them based on either their preference or since they were the only people available. It is very important to assign roles to people based on their capability and incase there's no one available, then either one of the co-founder should fill in the gap or the employee should be made aware that this is a temporary arrangement. The "jugaad" of people, costs heavily while scaling up.
Be proactive to innovate
Whether you are a product company or a services firm, it is always advisable to be proactive and constantly innovate. Innovation not only helps make your offering better, but also goes well with customers. While improvisation based on customer feedbacks is essential, being thoughtfully proactive will make you a favourite of customers. Taking time out in midst of fire fighting and allocating dedicated resources to innovate as well as work on bigger plan is important.
Building a start-up team and empowering it
As a founder or senior manager, look for team members who have a high sense of "initiative" and "accountability". I love employees who continuously push me with their initiatives and can't go to sleep till the time an effective solution is arrived for any burning issues. When you are running fast at a start-up, it's not possible for you to push and pull others. A roc star team can be the biggest asset and can be the difference between mediocre and great startups. Therefore, it is imperative that focused time should be spent on hiring and nurturing the team that can create the difference. I am a firm believer that a great manager or salesman or developer is 10x better than an average one, so go all out to scout and nurture them.
Ask for Help
In the unknown and challenging world of startups, the journey is both exciting and painful. The world is full of nice and knowledgeable people, who are always willing to help. Apart from the valuable advice and help, sometimes, this builds in a relationship of trust and respect, which has many advantages. I have closed my fund raising with an investor whom I approached not for fund raising, but for advice on understanding the sector and B2B business.
We concluded a strategic partnership with a large multi-national organization, with whom I had reached out for some help in structuring few deals. And both of them have been cold calls/mails. In the process of genuinely seeking help, you'll build mentors, relationships and business partnerships.
And finally, one should look at enjoying this journey and lead by example, as a happy and passionate person can only motivate a team to create a great start-up culture.