MBA Notes : Start-Ups, the Ups and Downs

Start-ups are by their nature small. The advantages are clear : they are nimble, they are new, they can move quickly, they are usually motivated to disrupt. The disadvantages are just as clear: they lack resources. Deciding who does what and more importantly what to do, is very hard. It requires great organization and the ability to forecast trends.

As a student of project management I have discovered that one of the most important aspects in any new organization is choosing what is needed and what isn’t. Your staff is limited, there are certain things you can’t do yourself. If you can’t admit this, you’re fooling yourself and you won’t achieve your objectives and if by some chance you do, you won’t sustain that success. Ask yourself “What’s Essential, and What Can We Live Without?”. Once you start reaching for those non-essential “bells and whistles” you’ve dug yourself into a hole. Don’t ever stop focusing on the end-user (consumer).

Another question you must consider “What Do We Outsource?”. You can outsource any aspect of your business : design, business dev, programming work, accounting, HR. There are a ton of freelancers and small firms that can handle that for you. That brings us back to the original question : “What’s Essential?”. My suggestion: decide what tasks are routine, if it’s not something you’ve spent a large amount of time thinking about, it’s probably not that important and your business will not suffer if you outsource it. The same rule applies for automation.

Another big consideration: How do you best utilize the existing talent you have? Every business report, textbook, magazine, successful entrepreneur will say the same thing : Your Employees are Your Most Valuable Asset. It seems obvious, but it’s easy to lose that focus. As the fulcrum of your enterprise, that’s your responsibility. Focus on your employees and the consumer of your product or service. There will inevitably be ups and downs, but if you can remain focused on those two aspects, you stand a much better chance to suceed.

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