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How Short-Term Suffering in Startups Leads To Their Long-Term Success

How Short-Term Suffering in Startups Leads To Their Long-Term Success

It would appear that anyone with a laptop and an Internet connection is launching a startup. I am not going to lie to you there is a romance behind building a successful company. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of work that must be done in private before you can celebrate your wins in public.

Not only is the journey ahead of you epic but 90% of startups fail, according to Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg. Why? Because… you waited too long to launch, you hired poorly, or you simply lost focus.

Until recently, I have been a serial failure as an entrepreneur. I lacked the understanding of how the short-term pain bleeds into long-term success. I have discussed these issues with a few entrepreneurs, and I have listed some of the mile markers they encountered on their journey to building a successful company:

1. The product is important to the business, but the company culture is more important.

Mike McDerment, CEO of FreshBooks, explains the company invests a great deal of energy into creating a company culture that is supportive and collaborative.

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It’s in the DNA of FreshBookers to go to great lengths to execute extraordinary experiences every day for our customers and for each other. – Mike McDerment, CEO of FreshBooks,

The single most important commodity for a company is to hire for cultural fit; hiring people who share the company’s core values.

2. You are working hard to succeed, but first you have to fail before you can triumph.

Failure is a valuable tool for the entrepreneur. And without forensic analysis failure is nothing more than… defeat! So you must schedule the time to give serious thought to the question “Why didn’t it work out?” Once you start fleshing out this question higher-order learning and growth begin.

At the end of your analysis you must have clear ideas about why it failed, and what you will do differently next time.

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3. You are solving problems, but you must create better strategies to solve the more difficult issues.

Todd Barrish, President of Indicate Media, practices four problem-solving strategies:

  • Step 1: Thoroughly identify the problem and the cause of the problem.
  • Step 2: Discuss solutions. This includes potentially reframing the conversation.
  • Step 3: Assign responsibility of the solution. Who is going to manage moving things forward?
  • Step 4: Set a measurement of the solution, so you know when and whether the problem was solved.

4. You are taking risks but the risks must be intelligent so that they can feed the innovation.

Todd Barrish, President of Indicate Media explains that innovation is the backbone of any successful startup.

Barrish sites the launch of his company as a prime example of how innovation has allowed Indicate Media to thrive. Todd continues to explain that the secret sauce to building brand credibility and securing new business is centered on his ability to take intelligent risks against established norms.

5. You are focused on your vision, but you are failing to recognize when to adapt to the market.

No marketplace is immune from change, and if your startup is to succeed, then you must change with the market. But it’s not enough to match course with the market – to experience gain you have to stay ahead of the change. This is why it becomes important to understand the difference between what Andy Grove, author of Only The Paranoid Survive, refers to as recognizing the difference between signal and noise.

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6. You are creating products better than your competitor, but you must make the product better for your customer.

You must constantly be engaged in conversations around making better products. And I am not just saying to make the product better than your competitors but it must be better than what you have done before. Sometimes it might be a minor change that could be implemented in a few hours, other times the implementation could take months, even years to fully realize.

7. You are settings goals for your company, but they must be D.U.M.B. goals.

  • Dream-driven: Let’s start with building a big dream, stay away from the safe dream.
  • Uplifting: Your goals should have a prerequisite of being positive. Your goals should inspire you to accomplish them.
  • Method-friendly: You need to build methods of obtaining your goals. Your focus should be on building habits that move you closer to achieving your goals.
  • Behavior-triggered: When you set a goal, you need to create triggers that remind you to keep chasing them.

8. You’re focusing on the work ahead but to succeed you must build the appropriate skills.

At the beginning of most new projects, you will lack key skills that are critical to the success of the project. Understanding this issue is critical and will condition you to focus on those skills.

Once you have identified the skill to master, you must not only create a set of habits, but you must also have a provocative ”why” is the skill important. This strategy will place you in the proper mindset to keep you growing the new skill.

9. You have mentally prepared yourself to deal with the stress of a startup, but you have not changed your mind.

“There is nothing more powerful than a changed mind,” explains motivational speaker Les Brown.

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It’s your disempowering story that you are not good enough that keep you from achieving you true potential. By changing your mindset to believe with certainty in your potential, you give yourself permission to take massive action, which gets you those amazing results, you have been dreaming of.

10. There are times when you’re about to give up, but you have to focus on why this thing is important to you.

To be honest, don’t ever think about giving up. If something doesn’t work out, thinking of a new way to make it work and move on. You must be determined to get through the bad times. If need be, get your team together, outlined the situation, until you come up with a plan to fix it.

11. You do a great deal of talking but for you to understand what is needed you need to shut-up and listen.

Great leaders are great listeners. It’s not your job to dominate the room with your rhetoric. Your job is to listen because the most effective strategy to get people’s attention is for you to give them your attention.

12. You are the boss but to be successful you need to be a leader.

Leaders are not the boss. Leaders develop the gift for getting others to operate at their peak performance. And what might those gifts look like:

  • Listening to your team and addressing suggestions, concerns, and personal issues.
  • Coaching your team to raise their performance to a higher standard.
  • Allowing every team member the opportunity to voice their ideas.

Take the opportunity to listen and you will create an environment where they can unleash their full potential.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash/Volkan Olmez via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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