How can you differentiate yourself? Execution. Building a better business model is crucial, but even once you’ve invented a better value proposition, a more efficient infrastructure, and have a much better channel approach, you still need people to implement these strategies. This report focuses on lots of the challenges in building the ideal team for where you’re in the lifecycle of your company. It continues my series of posts addressing the managerial, operational and financial side of running an ecommerce company. Up to now, the series contains the following installments.
Just Getting Started?
I am experiencing the challenges of starting a new company at the moment. I am working with two distinct teams on new startup concepts, and building a team is a struggle. Even once you have co-founders with the identical vision, you may face awkward conversations in the initial days about ownership, functions, responsibilities, and compensation. That is before you even begin building anything.
The secret is to find co-founders you trust and can be totally open with. It is very much like a marriage — with even nastier legal arrangements to sort through. Having different abilities and temperaments is common, but not essential. What’s necessary is to clearly specify who’s doing what and how you’ll bring differences of opinion ahead and solve them, since you’ll have a lot of them.
Early Stage Startups
Normally, the co-founders develop the vision and strategies for the business. When the workload is too much for your co-founders, you are going to bring on new folks. Before you do so, make sure you be clear on what your company will look like and what your want your values and culture to be like. A civilization will grow, an you really do have the chance to influence it. If you do not decide what you would like it to be, then you might not enjoy what you get.
Spend some time deciding if you will be a”top down” or”bottom up” management style — or somewhere in between. Will workers be offered incentives for performance or equity positions? Are you going to be team oriented on your approach or function in more traditional functional silos?
As you recruit, start looking for folks who have been successful within an organizational arrangement such as the one you envision. Tell them what your culture and values are and see how they respond. If you see sneers or blank faces when you talk about the values that are significant, you have a fairly good indicator that the match might not be ideal for your organization.
Some of them may sound absurd, but if you aren’t clear about what your values and culture are, you might end up hiring people that end up focusing on the wrong things in your company or simply mismatched with the culture or business which you put in place. For instance, in case you’ve got a culture where the customer is always right, you might not wish to employ an argumentative and overbearing customer support supervisor.
If you’re beyond the”barely working” phase and are in a growth spurt, you will probably need more help. You may face decisions about hiring temporary employees or adding part time positions. You might not have a human resources department to perform recruitment, so you might have to determine whether screening advertisements for five new hires from Craigslist or Jobs.com is a really fantastic use of a senior manager’s time.
Evaluate outsourcing your recruitment or even outsourcing personnel to an agency. Some of those decisions will return to your organizational goals and values. Hiring outside employees on a temporary basis may provide you flexibility and accelerate hiring, but your quality control and customer service may suffer. There are lots of tradeoffs you may face during a high growth period.
Something else that happens during high growth is that co-founders and supervisors suddenly find themselves spending more time on training and development, and less on strategy. They might also feel isolated from information, since they were heavily involved in an activity that’s now the duty of someone else. I remember when I stopped doing incoming customer support when we were about 18 months to our ecommerce enterprise. At that time, I truly understood customer problems and felt connected to trends and what was happening in the marketplace. When we hired a customer care manager to field those inquiries, I understood it was going to be tricky to comprehend the industry and I once did.
As firms grow, they eventually grow into actual businesses rather than just entrepreneurial companies. I see companies as being”older” if the co-founders or senior supervisors can leave the building for a protracted time period and everything still works just fine. This is a period in which you have supervisors in place to take care of customer, supplier, personnel and operational problems. It probably means you have strong business processes also.
This phase can be embarrassing for the leaders and owners. Suddenly, you might not be vital to the success of your enterprise. For some, that is the day that they dreamed of. For others, you might feel lost. It is important to recognize where you’re. It could afford you the opportunity to perform strategic planning for more expansion. Or, if you prefer, you might have the time to do more leisurely jobs.
Irrespective of how you use your time, you’ve got new people challenges. Be sure the senior managers you’ve are happy in their functions. See if they’re searching for additional growth. Oftentimes, entrepreneurs become disenchanted at the leadership role of a mature firm. They get itchy and begin searching for new items to create. I can relate to this one. It is a huge reason I recently sold my company.
All the items in this article are lively. Whatever the culture and organizational structure you aspire too, at some stage it’ll be influenced by the people you hire and the market which you operate in. Listen, be elastic, and do not be afraid to make adjustments. Be open and transparent. It almost always works better than holding things in or being deceitful.
Lastly, realize that your business success is hugely dependent on the people you employ. Execution of your business model is vital. That is what makes great companies really great, not your original thought. Execution is carried out by people, so be certain that hiring the proper ones and developing their skills is a high priority.