from Forbes Zine 09 Dec 14 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
Author: Mona Patel is Founder and CEO at Motivated Design, a user experience & design thinking agency,
Perspective. It’s impossible to avoid hearing the phrase “90% fail” when you run a startup. Early on, I realized it was better to see my startup as just “any other” small business endeavor — one that the US Bureau of Labor estimates has a 70%, 3-year survival rate, which is a less terrifying statistic. It’s our fifth year, and after speaking with attendees at a recent Inc. 5000 event honoring the fastest-growing companies in America, I identified four (4) ways to help position companies for survival and growth.
1. React to “No”. Business founders usually share a common experience: At some point someone told them “no,” and they didn’t like it. So they turned that “no” into a new company or market-changing product. “No” became an action point rather than a full stop. In my case, it became the idea of the anti-agency: a no-nonsense agency dedicated to using innovative user experiences & disruptive design thinking. Today, I always pay attention to & investigate the possibilities of “no.”
Consideration. When I considered whether or not my business should continue growing like last year, I thought about the impact to my clients, my employees & myself. Considering this “no” response sparked a divergent thought about slowing growth to develop a new line of workshops and enable myself to write a book. We are now acting on these ideas, which will catalyze future growth.Respond to “no.” It often hints at your next action.
2. Grow Smarter. Growth is a devious metric, sometimes Friend & sometimes Foe. We’ve doubled our workforce in the last 18 months, but I’m still conservative about growth. One way to grow smartly is to hire contractors first, converting them to full-time employees as business needs dictate. This model scales and provides the opportunity to gradually consider someone as a full-time hire. But the real secret for me has been to grow when:
2a) I meet someone that understands our Vision &can contribute to its enhancement,
2b) when a project/client comes along that seems too good to be true — nice people, cool work, huge impact — but “is” too good to pass up.
3. Keep Operations Sharp. You need:
3a) experienced Operations Team responsible for establishing & enforcing protocols. This is the trusted team that knows practically if you can hire people and triple office space without going bust. Human resources & operations are realities, so don’t be too busy dreaming and ignoring business basics.
3b) Special Ops Team. These individuals are special, because they do their jobs so well, that they don’t need much supervision. I stand back so they can go forth & lead, innovate, build, grow, etc. — which is what I love the most. This trust also saves time & money. I’m notorious for following my Intuition on everything – from the employees we hire – to the clients we take on – to the customers we fire. Therefore, I need a team to consult and cover my back. The Special Ops Team quickly reacts to course changes, getting done whatever needs to be done and doing it well.
4. Empower Employees. Rule #1: “Use your best judgment”: This company is about innovating — it’s not just a the buzzword — but real innovation. For each employee, when they’re given a task, encourage them to use their best judgment, not just what you think you should do, but what feels right to them. Be different, so your organization can think different. Employees were hired because somewhere in the interview process, they demonstrated they could.” This rule empowers employees to draw on their skills & instincts rather than worrying about “the right way” to do their job.
Build confidence through a Mentoring program: pair new employees with seasoned ones to give them On-the-job training. To best position your company for survival & growth – even if the odds are daunting – react to being told “no”, grow smarter, keep your operations sharp & empower your employees. Running a business is always challenging, but isn’t always fun, so focus on what you can control — your choices — and choose to enjoy and learn from them. The most terrifying, or costly, thing would be to have regrets and think of things you could have done differently when you look back.
Comments: Is there anything you could add to “Help a Startup grow?