Stop Fighting Fires
By: Trishan Arul, Joe Markert & Dr. Marc Applebaum
October 25, 2010
2
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Introduction
• Tweet & Answer (T&A) Format
• Tweet your own “fires” using #FailCon #Fires hasht...
3
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Joe Markert – FunctionOne IT
• IT Services, Consulting – We are your IT Department,
Virtual CIO...
4
www.thesprocketgroup.com
IT Fire # 1 – Business Continuity
• Fire / Symptom:
• Data Loss due to hard drive failure,
huma...
5
www.thesprocketgroup.com
IT Fire #1 - Putting out the fire…
• Water / Solutions:
• Ask yourself, what would I do if I lo...
6
www.thesprocketgroup.com
IT Fire #2 – “I can do IT myself!”
• Fire / Symptom:
• Founders, CEO or Valuable Talent
acting ...
7
www.thesprocketgroup.com
IT Fire #2, Yes you can, but it costs…
• Water / Solutions:
• Do the math: % of time spent on I...
8
www.thesprocketgroup.com
IT Fire #3 – Security
• Fire / Symptom:
• Hackers took down our website!
• Worse: Hackers took ...
9
www.thesprocketgroup.com
IT Fire #3 - Security
• Water / Solutions:
• Ensure open source components are kept
up to date
...
11
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Dr. Marc Applebaum
Coach & Organizational Development Consultant
• @iapplebaum
• marc@marcappl...
12
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Organizational Problems
Putting out
organizational fires is--
• Conceptually easy, but
• Emoti...
13
www.thesprocketgroup.com
healthy business
founder
team
leader
team
leader
admin
14
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Combustible business
founder admin
team
leader?
team
leader?
15
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Organizational Problem--
• Fire / Symptom:
• Burnout—the founder is in constant
motion but fee...
16
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Organizational problems
Water / Solutions:
• Define the key roles in your business
• Delegate:...
17
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Organizational Fire #2 -hiring blind
Fire / Symptoms:
• You hired key employees in a
hurry—the...
18
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Organizational fire #2 -hiring blind
Water / Solutions:
• Use an agreed-upon job description—n...
19
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Organizational Fire #3—“decisions”
that don’t work
Fire / Symptoms:
• Actions you thought were...
20
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Putting out the fire…
Water / Solutions
Reach agreement on--
• Who is involved in making impor...
21
www.thesprocketgroup.com
22
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Trishan Arul – Arul & Associates
• Finance & Accounting – Part Time CFO services or
complete o...
23
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Accounting Fire #1 - No #’s
• Fire / Symptom:
• Need financial statements NOW and
don’t have t...
24
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Accounting Fire #1 - Get Control
• Water / Solutions:
• Find a quick & easy way to track the b...
25
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Accounting Fire #2 - No Budget
• Fire / Symptom:
• Always out of money
• Don’t know if you can...
26
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Accounting Fire #3 - No Personal $
• Fire / Symptom:
• Can’t pay your personal bills which are...
27
www.thesprocketgroup.com
28
www.thesprocketgroup.com
T&A - Tweet & Answer
• Tweet your own “fires” using #FailCon #Fires hashtags
• Keep Tweeting, ...
29
www.thesprocketgroup.com
Thank You!
• Trishan Arul – Arul & Associates
@tarultrishan@arulandassociates.com
(415) 448-77...
Failcon SprocketGroup Presentation
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Failcon SprocketGroup Presentation

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This was the slide deck we used for our recent presentation on handling IT, Finance, HR fires in a start-up or growing business environment. The deck represents some sample fires we presented to get the conversation going and to invite the audience to share their issues in our workgroup setting.

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  • - Veterans of multiple startups but no big exits, keep hoping!
    Different areas of expertise; all work with small & medium businesses, in some cases primarily startups, to make their lives easier -> we don't code, we don't sell, we do things in the background so the founders, engineers, and other employees can do what they do best
    having worked with lots of startups, good/bad/ugly, and things we'd rather not remember but often there are recurring issues or fires that pop up -> you won't be the first to have a problem, and you won't be the last, but hopefully you'll learn something at FailCon so that you can solve your current problems and avoid future ones
    - get to the root cause of the problem!
    Who is in the room?
    SKILL: engineers/sales/marketing/operations/other
    BUSINESS:"founders"/working at a startup/working at small business/big business/in school
    INDUSTRY: Web 2.0/Hardware/Software/Service/Non-tech
  • Failcon SprocketGroup Presentation

    1. 1. Stop Fighting Fires By: Trishan Arul, Joe Markert & Dr. Marc Applebaum October 25, 2010
    2. 2. 2 www.thesprocketgroup.com Introduction • Tweet & Answer (T&A) Format • Tweet your own “fires” using #FailCon #Fires hashtags • Address as many as possible during workshop, focusing on fires with similar themes • Start tweeting now! • Who are We? • Who are You?
    3. 3. 3 www.thesprocketgroup.com Joe Markert – FunctionOne IT • IT Services, Consulting – We are your IT Department, Virtual CIO/CTO • @FunctionOneIT • www.FunctionOneIT.com • joe@functiononeit.com
    4. 4. 4 www.thesprocketgroup.com IT Fire # 1 – Business Continuity • Fire / Symptom: • Data Loss due to hard drive failure, human error or other disaster • It’s not “if” it will happen, it’s when • Fuel / Root Cause: • No backup plan in place, “I’m too busy, I’ll do it later” • No redundancy in disaster recovery planning • No offsite storage as part of solution
    5. 5. 5 www.thesprocketgroup.com IT Fire #1 - Putting out the fire… • Water / Solutions: • Ask yourself, what would I do if I lost my data tomorrow? • Desperate: USB drive (probably already have one) • Cheap: Acronis, MozyPro.com, Jungle Disk, Time Machine • Ideal: Ensure both onsite and offsite hands-free backup is occurring. Limit human intervention beyond regular testing of backups. Lean towards whole system backups.
    6. 6. 6 www.thesprocketgroup.com IT Fire #2 – “I can do IT myself!” • Fire / Symptom: • Founders, CEO or Valuable Talent acting as internal IT staff • Internal goals or deadlines not being met due to IT distractions • Fuel / Root Cause: • “It’s cheaper to do it myself!” • We don’t need no stinkin’ IT! • External IT support is too expensive!
    7. 7. 7 www.thesprocketgroup.com IT Fire #2, Yes you can, but it costs… • Water / Solutions: • Do the math: % of time spent on IT, multiply against key salary • Example: 35% of $120K = $42K • “Cheap”: Trade equity for services • Ideal: Hire 3rd Party solutions firm/consultant to monitor, manage, maintain your systems, provide guidance • Ensure vendor has depth in personnel • Free yourself to focus on the core!
    8. 8. 8 www.thesprocketgroup.com IT Fire #3 – Security • Fire / Symptom: • Hackers took down our website! • Worse: Hackers took down our client’s website!! • Disastrous: Hackers took down our bank account! • Fuel / Root Cause: • Open Source components not updated • Lax, or absence of, security policies
    9. 9. 9 www.thesprocketgroup.com IT Fire #3 - Security • Water / Solutions: • Ensure open source components are kept up to date • Set internal security policy and have everyone sign off • Passwords, use of personal accounts, social networking, etc • Ideal: Ensure the solution means, “I will never have to deal with this again!”
    10. 10. 11 www.thesprocketgroup.com Dr. Marc Applebaum Coach & Organizational Development Consultant • @iapplebaum • marc@marcapplebaum.com • (415) 424-0215
    11. 11. 12 www.thesprocketgroup.com Organizational Problems Putting out organizational fires is-- • Conceptually easy, but • Emotionally difficult
    12. 12. 13 www.thesprocketgroup.com healthy business founder team leader team leader admin
    13. 13. 14 www.thesprocketgroup.com Combustible business founder admin team leader? team leader?
    14. 14. 15 www.thesprocketgroup.com Organizational Problem-- • Fire / Symptom: • Burnout—the founder is in constant motion but feels ineffective • Gridlock--no decision gets made without the founder • Fuel / Root Cause: • Founder is involved in every decision • No effective division of labor • Pervasive feeling of chaos
    15. 15. 16 www.thesprocketgroup.com Organizational problems Water / Solutions: • Define the key roles in your business • Delegate: your job can’t be “doing everything” • Put a org structure in place that’s clear & adaptable • Hold people accountable so you can build a trustworthy team
    16. 16. 17 www.thesprocketgroup.com Organizational Fire #2 -hiring blind Fire / Symptoms: • You hired key employees in a hurry—they seemed good, but now they’re underperforming and you’re not getting what you need Fuel / Root Causes: • You were too rushed to carefully vet people during the interviews • It’s hard to know who you’re getting until you’ve worked with them
    17. 17. 18 www.thesprocketgroup.com Organizational fire #2 -hiring blind Water / Solutions: • Use an agreed-upon job description—not just gut feel—to vet people • Whenever possible screen people by giving them a trial project or assignment • When you hire, use a short probationary period to quickly identify who’s working and who isn’t—and act on that information
    18. 18. 19 www.thesprocketgroup.com Organizational Fire #3—“decisions” that don’t work Fire / Symptoms: • Actions you thought were agreed to aren’t being acted on, and the clock is ticking… • People are confused and frustrated about what you want them to do Fuel / Root Causes: • Your decision-making process is broken • People haven’t bought into shared ground rules
    19. 19. 20 www.thesprocketgroup.com Putting out the fire… Water / Solutions Reach agreement on-- • Who is involved in making important decisions • What your process is for making and communicating decisions • A shared commitment to regular meetings for making decisions
    20. 20. 21 www.thesprocketgroup.com
    21. 21. 22 www.thesprocketgroup.com Trishan Arul – Arul & Associates • Finance & Accounting – Part Time CFO services or complete outsourcing of accounting funtion • @tarul or trishan@arulandassociates.com • http://www.arulandassociates.com • (415) 448-7736
    22. 22. 23 www.thesprocketgroup.com Accounting Fire #1 - No #’s • Fire / Symptom: • Need financial statements NOW and don’t have them • Requests from investor, creditor, bank, partner, etc • Fuel / Root Cause: • No bookkeeping at all • “Shoebox” accounting • Only tracking cash • Don’t know what a financial statement is!
    23. 23. 24 www.thesprocketgroup.com Accounting Fire #1 - Get Control • Water / Solutions: • Find a quick & easy way to track the basics (2 hrs/wk) • Free: outright.com; Intuit Quickbooks Online • Cheap: QB Online; xero.com; lessaccounting.com • Desperate: Use Mint.com to track just cash & CC • Ideal: Assign responsibility to an employee (get help to start) or outsource
    24. 24. 25 www.thesprocketgroup.com Accounting Fire #2 - No Budget • Fire / Symptom: • Always out of money • Don’t know if you can afford to buy X • Fuel / Root Cause: • No budget in place • Have not put “investment” into company • Water / Solutions: • Make a simple budget (personal & business) & stick to it • Put $ in a separate account
    25. 25. 26 www.thesprocketgroup.com Accounting Fire #3 - No Personal $ • Fire / Symptom: • Can’t pay your personal bills which are company costs • Fuel / Root Cause: • Mixing personal & business expenses • Water / Solutions: • Segregate business & personal (bank and/or CC accts) • Use debit card on business bank account • Set up auto bill pay with your bank – 20%+ interest & late fees add up quick!
    26. 26. 27 www.thesprocketgroup.com
    27. 27. 28 www.thesprocketgroup.com T&A - Tweet & Answer • Tweet your own “fires” using #FailCon #Fires hashtags • Keep Tweeting, we will gather issues into similar groups and address them • You can also just say it out loud
    28. 28. 29 www.thesprocketgroup.com Thank You! • Trishan Arul – Arul & Associates @tarultrishan@arulandassociates.com (415) 448-7736 • Dr. Marc Applebaum @iapplebaum marc@marcapplebaum.com (415) 424-0215 • Joe Markert – Function One IT @functiononeit joe@functiononeit.com (415) 962-1585

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