What I Learned on My 365 Working Days Build a New Startup Company
Exactly last year in September 2019, I was given the authority to start a new startup company and build it from day one. It was my first time being a leader when I finally recruit 20 new people to be in my team for several months. Here’s what I have learned, on my 365 working days.
- When it’s a newly built startup, your title doesn’t matter. All we need is The Doers
In an established company, usually, people with C level or director level knows that they can delegate the jobs and have enough resources. While in a startup even if you are on a C level, you may start alone on your first days or months. That doesn’t mean you can just sit and wait for the results to come to you. As a founder, C level, or director level, you must be hands-on not only as a problem solver but more importantly the right problem finders, then find ways to solve it. When we do new recruitment, don’t just astonish with their previous title, but ask whether the culture would fit. Cause it would be a different case when people were in an established and startup company, but what matter most is their character and a can-do attitude, strong mentality, persistence, and grit.
2. As a Leader give clear direction and build the system to ease your subordinates works
Not just solve daily problems, but as a leader, we must create a system, help our team and subordinates thus the works will be done efficiently and effectively. Often we are too busy with do the works too, but we need to remember that we are there and lead them so our team tasks will be improved. Also, too many times coordination and miscommunication over small stuff that has big impacts happen. That is why our role is to make sure that everybody is on the same page and make sure every single thing that needs coordination will be communicated. Simple but often people are lazy and just assume that other people may already understand it. Never make your assumption that you think other people understand, make sure they are clear with your meaning.
3. Hire Slow, Fire Fast
Trust your gut feelings. When something is not right, do not be afraid to face it, talk directly with your subordinates. Give assertive feedback. When they are not changing, then it’s time to fire them. I know hiring is exhausting, but think for the best, and accept the process. There were times when I was too tired because I feel my subordinates are not that reliable during the first months, but I have a gut feeling that they can do it. Knowing another fact too, hiring new people won’t be that easy and need time to learn too. Accordingly, I gave it a try and trust my gut feeling, now after 6 months, I can fully trust my subordinates whom I doubt at first.
4. Working every day is real
I like to be productive even on the weekend. But, I never imagine that it would take even my whole weekend too. Knowing that a startup must be lean. I think the most important part is to enjoy and accept the process too. Since I’m dealing much with operations in the food industry for retail business, even at dawn I would have to accept a call from motorists at 4 AM when they need clarity. I am learning to accept that, but my other step would be I need to find a way to solve it. However, It would always be your choice, whether you want to stay like that, improve it, or look for another job. Remember we are working to live, not living to work.
5. No need for perfection, just start, and take action
Too much analysis will be killed with time. Remember in a startup we need the doers, not just dreaming, cause nowadays ideas are everywhere and can be copied. What can’t be copied is your implementation and how you find problems, how you deal when problems arise. Our ideas may not perfect at first, but through times, when we find more problems, we get more insight and understanding whether our solution is enough or not, whether there is a market need, whether people willing to pay for X amount of money to buy that. Always validate while taking your actions. Set a certain time to assess your hypothesis and prove whether it is worth to be continued.
6. It’s about Your Employees, Not about You
Remember when you are a leader, your job is not only to build the business but most importantly is to take care of your employees who will make your customers happy. Helping your employees to grow personally and professionally by working with you, understanding their difficulties and help them solve the issues so next time they would be more independent and they can slowly take decisions when needed. I believe that employees would be first, customers second, third is investors/stakeholders. Through a strong visions, satisfied employees will take care of your customers and it will give return to the investors.
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