It’s rather cool at the very beginning. Couple of people, lots of fun, lots of work. You are still stress-free, with no long term goals. Somebody has introduced you on the field, air is crispy clear and cheering come naturally as well as the pep on the shoulder. You are different, because you are now the one who controls the game. “I cannot ask for anything more”, often you think, everything needs to stay exactly as it is now, or maybe to become just a little bit better. Those are the moments when it is easy to be modest.
But, you can’t fight the nature of things. First, there comes the growth, however people continue to follow the same, there is no strategy and no modification; it seems like you are winning but the harsh truth is that you are losing. What to do:
– First (and presence by high profile marketing agencies, selling exactly that. The poor SEO optimization, confusing contact forms, below average responsiveness, lack of customer care, etc.
– Prioritize. When you a small fish, you want to equally divide your time between clients and prepare it properly.
– People. At the very beginning you know who are you working with, at least that’s the case in majority of successful companies. As business develops, almost every company makes the same mistake of rapid and give yourself enough time to find the right guy for the job. As much as people are important during the company’s first days, the ones that come after you are even more important, because the hardest thing to maintain is growth. Make a database of potential employees, like big companies keep, so you can react promptly if a new position opens. Do not wait for a new client to hire extra staff, because when the new client shows up it can already be too late.
– Six out of ten most famous brand then give up, when dreams don’t become a reality.
– As much as, at least during the first days, you would like to have everything inhouse, sometimes it is either impossible or demand word-of-mouth goes around really fast.
– Do not push “a Google thing”- a relation you had with your “starting lineup” you cannot retain with nor enforce on all your employees. There are people who just want to show up at work, do their job, earn their paycheck, and they should be appreciated because of that. In other words, create such a working atmosphere in which people will not change a company because of a slightly bigger paycheck, then it is just an alarming red light.
– Procedures are obligatory. It is extremely difficult to change a loose attitude of a small team to an organizational one. By procedures I mean ones that enhance work, not complicate it. If it is necessary that every Tuesday you have an hour-long chat with your boss on various topic, then it is some sort of a procedure but not a dull one, but rather one that will help people to get to know each other. Dule Vujosevic (basketball coach) had a habit of giving homework to the players, like reading a certain book or seeing a play in theatre. Considering that you have time and need to get.
– Finance. In my personal experience, when you are starting a business from scratch, there is no relevant financial knowledge. Deal with that problem as soon as you can. Start with training, get some advices, hire a consultant and finances are mostly among those determinants.
– Sales. For a long period of time, I strongly believed that founding partners can also be the sales guys. Oh man, was I wrong! Partners need to bring clients and realize the needs of your client. You can post questionnaire on your website or send it to client in an email.
After that, comes the job for sales department: they need to make an assessment whether to create custom-made offer or give a template offer. Whether to suggest a meeting or not? The mistake I made was that I’ve always went to meetings, which is ok when you are a beginner but later on it can be a real waste of time, especially for cold leads.
Sales need to manage expectations of potential clients, particularly in the part where client expects to get, along with the offer–and overseeing the process itself.
– Legal. When starting a business, you need to take “Legal 101” course; to get accustomed with expressions like annex, NDA etc. This is crucial in order to be capable to negotiate on company’s behalf. After that, leave the job to the professionals (meaning leave it to them to define stand your employees)
List of “must do/have” things doesn’t end here but if you pay attention to above mentioned, then everything will go much smoother- which is not a guarantee for success. For that, you would need a pinch of luck.