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30 things: Part 7/7: PEOPLE : 30 things I learned from my startup experience
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30 things: Part 7/7: PEOPLE : 30 things I learned from my startup experience


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This is part 7/7 of my series 30 things I learned from my startup experiences. In this final part, I will be talking about creating the first team, running the teams (sales and tech), overall tips and …

This is part 7/7 of my series 30 things I learned from my startup experiences. In this final part, I will be talking about creating the first team, running the teams (sales and tech), overall tips and then there is a section on choosing your co-founder. There are slides on what happens when things do go wrong, or if there is a fall out and what are the ways out. And finally some tips on learning and networking as well.

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  • 1. PART 7 – People, Learning & Emotions things that I learned from my startup experience Suhas Dutta
  • 2. “ “ Plautus
  • 3. So far… • In the previous part of this series, we went through my experiences from marketing and selling. Idea Starting Executing Funding Marketing Selling People Emotions Learning Results • This is my last set of slides of this series and I will cover multiple people related topics viz. people, building your team, emotions and partnership. Much of what I write you will see in action, and will feel somewhat intangibly.
  • 4. Be practical and realistic • No one wants to fail, and one should not plan for that. But, being aware that most startups fail, is just being practical. • This is something that your team needs to understand as well. • Per an infographic remember reading: that I – 25% startups are likely to survive long term, and about 47% startups are expected to survive >5 years. – Independent restaurants, direct sales, retail stores and consulting types of businesses are most likely to fail.
  • 5. Basic attitude, work style • Don’t startup for money. If you get your product right, check all boxes…money will happen at a point of time. • Have patience. You will not be a millionaire overnight. • Luck does play a part, but will not get you business, customers, goodwill or money. You will need to work very hard, and very smart. • Be convinced about the journey you are about to undertake. Even if you fail, you would have learned a lot in the process. It really is worth the journey. Half empty Half full Put two cubes of ice in, and drink
  • 6. Basic attitude, work style • Your mindset has to be that of an entrepreneur’s as has to be your lifestyle. • Have fun sometimes, break free. Keep your hobbies alive. Read. • Start your day early, it really does help. Get a head start. • Half empty Get hands on, be a leader and not a manager. Half full Put two cubes of ice in, and drink
  • 7. Building and running a team These are from my experiences about building and running a team in general, not just in a startup. • Finding the right talent is important. Hire the right person for the job, instead of the “best salesperson” you can find. It could be a person from a different industry too. • I felt providing feedback and coaching in the moment helps change behaviour. Feedback at appraisal time is late.
  • 8. Building and running a team • Empowering people enabled them to take initiative and often move faster. …as opposed to micro-managing. • Conveying my teachable point of view, has helped me in the past. Though this might or might not be effective or appreciated in all environments. • Assembling the founding team is an early super important activity and is the hallmark of a successful entrepreneur.
  • 9. Building and running your sales team • These people will bring money in, and are as important as your tech team if not more. • Process: – Some strategy and some process are important. But over engineering this stuff doesn’t seem to help much. What you do need to create is perhaps a cadence and culture for the team. – Managing the forward pipeline and using it to churn a meaningful forecast is important. Besides others, your investors will be happy to receive this forecast report. Some of what I write here holds for any sort of team that you build, sales or otherwise.
  • 10. Building and running your sales team • Managing performance – Performance management and related compensation are things to obsess about. Setting KPIs is the first and most important task for a new hire. – As perhaps is setting and agreeing upon a performance based commission plan. The largest chunk of the compensation must come from commissions based on achievable and stretch targets. – Winning is good, and fun. Celebrate wins, let people know.
  • 11. Building and running your sales team • While you look at individuals consider the team as a whole as well and try to identify – Address worrisome patterns behaviour among the team individuals immediately. of or – Stars and mavericks would need to be treated somewhat differently. – Enable them, empower them with technology. Be relentless with this, so that they can spend more time with a client or a prospective client. So, protect their time from non-productive tasks. – Most sales teams that I have seen are managed, and not necessarily led.
  • 12. Building and running a Tech team • Not all tech folk were created equal – (usually) this tech person is not working in a large tech company because he /she wouldn’t fit in there, or wouldn’t qualify. So temper your expectations a bit. – But there are techies who are startup specialists too, and these are folk who will carry your product / company. • If you are not a techie: – Feel free to observations challenge their – Do some research on your own, read up – Don't take their word for it, and feel free to get outside help from friends, ex-colleagues etc.
  • 13. Building and running a Tech team • Set some of your expectations right (whether you are a techie or not) – Get used to stuff breaking. But formulate a mechanism to get stuff back up quick. – Don’t expect them to understand business impact (usually) or be concerned. – Basic sense of quality / processes will often be missing. All this will have to be built. – Let them understand throwing hardware to a software problem is not the expected solution. – Get your tech team to work with a budget that you will approve but they will manage.
  • 14. Your co-founder / partner • Pick and choose your cofounder very carefully. It really is like getting married, and will have a long and deep impact on your business and well being. • Choosing an incompatible /bad partner will ruin your business, your mental peace and health. • Try to pick someone who you have worked with in the past. I not, ensure you do a thorough background check. Look for integrity, professionalism, perfe ction, basic hygiene factors (like punctuality for instance) and commitment. One of the largest reason s for startup failure is founder fallout. Really!
  • 15. Your co-founder / partner • In most cases, there is no such thing as an equal partnership. Desire for power, money etc does change people. • To avoid future conflict, one of the two (or more) needs to have primacy; Not just verbally but also on paper. In the agreements that you create and in corporate documents (e.g. AOA or MOA), power distribution and rights need to be listed out. Sounds very nasty, but trust me on this. • Many startups damage themselves because of co-founder conflict. It is better to part ways early than later when more is at stake.
  • 16. Your co-founder / partner • If you perceive you are carrying deadweight, get that off your chest early and if required, part ways. • Do not tolerate lack of commitment, bad behavior towards a customer or financial irregularities even once. • If conflict breaks out and it starts turning ugly, do remember “don’t wallow with a pig in mud. You will get dirty, and the pig enjoys it.” • There are ways to shut down, and startup again quickly. Your investor might be able to guide you how. If not, reach out to me and I will tell you how.
  • 17. Networking, Learning • Control the urge to spend too much time networking assuming you will generate a lot of business. • But do attend some workshops, some networking events. Be selective. • Okay to go to some training events, and appropriate to send team members once in a while as well. • Go to some TIE events, you will find likeminded people ready to lend a helping hand too. TIE also provides free co-working space; use it once in a while. • Go to some investor meet type events as well. You will find investors, fellow entrepreneurs, potential customers and some entertainment.
  • 18. If you feel down and out… • Feeling insecure, experiencing fear will all happen. • There will be periods of lull, depression and failure. It will be difficult to keep your chin up, and you will find your confidence wanting. You might keep bumping into naysayers as well. What kept me buoyant in difficult times are: – Considering the world around me and recognizing that there are people who are less fortunate, and being thankful for what I have / had. – Considering the amazing people I have in my life. – Considering how I have overcome obstacles in the past, with perseverance and patience. – Remembering my strengths as an individual, and remembering my past successes. …and take a break once in a while. Run away somewhere. Avoid a burn out!
  • 19. As you go about doing your business, here are my last three pointers. I will let you interpret this on your own. Jump in, be an entrepreneur, have fun! Every second is important. Move fast. SPEED DISTANCE Know the perfect spot to be in. React to the customer, be ready for TIMING their next move.
  • 20. • Oh well, maybe they were not 30…much more than that. I had started with a sheet of 30 bullet points, but as I started creating the slides the 30 increased. …and hopefully it has been worth the effort jotting all this down. • …and hope you have enjoyed reading through the material. If this material does help even one fellow entrepreneur, I would consider my effort successful.
  • 21. • Have questions or feedback? Write to me. • If you need a little help in terms of mentoring, reviewing material, vetting a plan or the like…I would be happy to help a fellow entrepreneur start her/his journey. It will cost you just a cup of coffee. • If you have already started and could do with some strategic advice, helping create your business plans or your investment pitch, marketing strategy, fulfill your company’s training needs, need advice on the pitch etc, please feel free to reach me. • My coordinates are: – –