Startup 2020: Step 12, Operate the Business
This is the twelfth and FINAL article in a series on how to start a company in 2020. See the previous article, Capitalize the Company
All the founders I have coached over the years know my mantra well: To start and grow a successful business, you must learn to be a good operator.
“There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.” ~-Jack Welch
The biggest problem with starting a company is that you have to run it. Companies don’t run themselves. That may sound trite and obvious, but unless you devise a system for running your company, it will consume you and take you away from focusing on the reason it exists to begin with – providing a great product and getting and keeping customers.
Entrepreneurs create, refine and manage ideas. Big corporations create, refine and manage processes. To grow your company – to make it successful – you must put in place good systems and processes. The good news is that the availability of tools necessary to create good processes is plentiful and the costs are inexpensive for most startups.
Things to Think About and Decide
First, think about how you will list and prioritize the most important things that have to get done each week, to move your company to the next step.
Second, decide how you and your team will communicate and collaborate with each other.
Third, think carefully about which company functions you should delegate or outsource and which functions you or your co-founder(s) should manage.
Fourth, think about how to leverage the talent, information, space, supplies, equipment, tools and other resources of your connections (family, friends, partners, suppliers, customers) to help run your company.
Things to Do (or not)
- Do not reinvent the wheel and try to build or customize systems and processes, at least at the start. There is a tool, template or service for just about everything your company needs to operate.
- Standardize on an email and web service and install it on all of your devices.
- Standardize on a phone and video conferencing service that your team will use to communicate with each other and with customers and partners, such as Zoom, Skype, Teams, Google Meet, Go-to-Meeting or Webex.
- Standardize on a document suite such as GoogleDocs or Microsoft Office.
- Standardize on a good project management tool.
- Get in the habit of writing a company update at least once per month and share it with your team, shareholders and influencers.
- Develop a dashboard or score card (KPI’s) of all key business metrics and share them with everyone weekly.
- Meet regularly with your team and advisors and focus on key milestones.
Recommended Readings & Resources
The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, a classic -one of the best books you will ever read on running a successful company.
Google Gsuite, Online office suite including word processing, spreadsheets, mail and calendar.
ZOHO, the operating system for any small business.
FreshBooks, online invoicing, accounting and billing software.
Reputation.com, monitor your reputation and those of your company and products.
Getting Things Done, by David Allen – Tactics to organize efficient task lists.
StartupBiz.com, legal and business templates for startup companies.
Trello, manage all your ideas and due dates and keep track of what you’re in the process of completing.
Asana, teamwork without email.
Slack, create channels for better team work.
RescueTime, monitor how you spend your time on your computer and mobile devices.
Remember the Milk, a to-do list manager that you can sync with all your devices, share tasks with others, and get email or text reminders of things you need to get done.
Evernote, remember everything using text, photo or audio notes, and clippings of websites.
Feedly, one of the best RSS readers on the market, a place to keep up with all the latest from your favorite blogs and publications.
TaskRabbit, outsource any task you really don’t want to do, from running errands to planning the details of your next event.
IFTTT, “If This Then That,” helps different apps, online programs, and services work together to make your life easier.
Lifehacker, solutions to problems you didn’t even know you had, from how to handle IT glitches to productivity tips.
Eventbrite, great tool for finding events and for planning and promoting your own events.
Conference Bites, an aggregation of all the notes you missed at various industry conferences.
Udemy, a mix of free and paid online classes with a solid rating system.
Upworthy, social issues that matter most, with viral videos and images to stimulate ideas for your products and services.
TED, unlimited inspiration and cool people doing amazing things.
Quora, ask questions, get answers. Good place to crowd source things you want to know.
99U, strategies for turning your ideas into action.
Creative Market, download fonts, WordPress themes and other creative resources.
Visual.ly, create your own infographic on your market or product.
Canva, design made easy.
Behance, showcase your design work, get ideas from really talented people.
Bubbl.us, gather your thoughts, save them for later to continue the thought process, or print or email them to yourself.
PayScale, best source of data to find out what positions pay in different geographical areas. Use it before offering someone a raise (or asking for one).
DiSC for Entrepreneurs and Startup Teams, time-tested assessments and personalized reports to help surface entrepreneurial and team leadership and work styles, and behavioral predispositions.
Larky, keep track of the perks and discounts from your various credit cards, professional organizations, and memberships.
Mint, link your credit cards, bank accounts, and loans to have a total online system that tracks your spending, saving, and financial health.
Fast Company, one of the best weekly reads on business news.
Mashable, the “leading source for news, information, and resources for the Connected Generation,” Mashable reports on our digital lives.
Inc., good read for productivity tips, management advice, and secrets of some of the world’s most successful people.
Harvard Business Review, tips on everything from corporate strategy to managing people.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek, smart, in-depth reporting about the biggest business, financial, and stock market issues.
theSkimm, get the day’s top headlines in one newsletter, makes staying current easy.
Good News, a personal news stream—all the stories and topics you care about compiled into a personal online newspaper.
The above list is just a SMALL sampling of resources for staying informed and getting stuff done. A good operator leverages good tools and institutes good processes to scale efficiently. If you have other favorites, feel free to add them in the comments section below.
That’s a WRAP! Hope you enjoyed the series. Best wishes for starting and growing in 2020 (despite the challenging environment). There’s never a bad time to start a good company.