Managing and developing a startup company can be an all consuming task, one that demands drive, vision, patience, and a willingness to learn from mistakes. Here are some insights from successful business CEOs and founders who have been there and overcome the challenges associated with starting a business, as described in the article “Wisdom for Startup Growth, From 5 People Who’ve Been There”:
#1 Smart hiring
It can be hard for a small business to devote a lot of time to the recruiting and hiring process, but this pays off in the long run. Once you have a stable base of employees, think about how you can actively recruit new college graduates with the skills you need, and think about how you can tailor the application and interview processes to find the candidates best suited to your business. Multiple CEOs have cited that an early mistake they made was not devoting enough time to the interview process to screen both for skills and for whether or not a candidate is a fit in the company culture. One CEO recommended data driven interviews, which means that candidates are encouraged to bring evidence to back up what they say in an interview.
#2 Attract the right people
Once you can draw from a large pool of strong job candidates, start making sure that you are hiring people that you know will perform in the specific areas you need. It is important that these people are not only highly motivated, but also have the special set of skills to further the company, which means that it is important for you as an owner to keep your company’s interests at heart and communicate clearly to people what you need from them. Finally, don’t be afraid to change what you ask of them as you learn more about their individual skills.
#3 Teamwork and collaboration
Once you have a stellar team assembled, it is time to empower them to truly collaborate with each other. This can be a challenge for growing companies in particular, who want to maintain that small business culture even as they expand. Develop company values and your culture to demonstrate to the whole office what is really important to the business, and give employees feedback during regular review procedures. Another practical way of encouraging teamwork is designing your office to allow collaboration, as well as making sure that you yourself are accessible to your staff as much as possible.
#4 Customers and branding
Customer service is key for new companies trying to get their names out there. Focus on developing your brand and allowing your customers to help determine the direction it takes. Conduct regular surveys; ask customers what they like best about your business and run with that, developing your image in tandem with what your customers know and like.
#5 Don’t be afraid of change
Just because your company starts as strictly online or only making a certain product does not mean that you have to stay in that box. If good opportunities come along to get into other products or services or partner with other businesses, don’t be afraid to consider these opportunities, even if it means a shift from your original vision.
#6 Management and communication
Errors in management involving insular views and a lack of collaboration can have insidious long term consequences for a new business, causing problems that can be hard to find and fix. Communication across disciplines and departments in a business can be difficult and frustrating at times, but it is important for management to always approach these situations with an attitude of understanding and a desire to understand the viewpoints of others in the business. This will help create an overall culture of teamwork throughout the entire company.
#7 Learn from mistakes
A mistake is not the end of the world, but it is crucial to identify problems quickly, do everything you can to solve them, and then make sure you never repeat the same mistakes twice. But don’t let yourself dwell too much on the errors—every business, every entrepreneur deals with problems at some point, but how you bounce back from them is what is most important.
#8 Keep everyone connected
As your business grows, you will still want to keep everyone on the same page and moving in the same direction. Some practical ways to do this are to make sure people stay up to date and connected using technology, such as live streaming meetings to different locations, sharing videos, and allowing people to comment on things in a communal virtual space.
Starting a business means keeping a lot of balls in the air at once, but there is so much wisdom to be gained from those who have already succeeded on this path. Make it a priority to think about these overall goals and strategies, instead of getting lost in the day to day of conducting business.