Starting a company is a bit like going to college for the first time. There are rules, but they’re not set in stone like they were in high school. You’ve got big goals, but you know they’ll take years to achieve. So, how do you handle yourself in the meantime?
Whether you like it or not, the first months of your startup company can be incredibly defining. These are the days in which the company culture is created and the core team members are developed. Sure, there’ll be ups and downs during this initial period, but there’s no time for gaining the freshman 15 or flunking out of your business class.
From day one, there are certain habits that all startup companies should strive to form. Not only will these habits translate into rapid growth and success, but they will also make those first few months less hectic than they could be.
1. Make the HR System Transparent
Even if you’re starting your company with a handful of close friends, keeping your rules and regulations loose doesn’t bode well. No one wants to work for a company that is filled with gray areas when it comes to details like vacation days, pay stubs, sick leaves and other benefits. Although those details seem like they should come with time, it’s a smart idea to start implementing your HR policies now. This will prevent confusion between old and new employees in the future.
How does this help with growth?
To put it simply, people generally look for three things when they join a company: good pay, benefits, and stability. If you want your startup to grow some legs and start running, you’ll eventually need more team members. These team members require incentives to join. Surprisingly, in 2018, 68 percent of employees did not choose salary as the most important factor when deciding to accept or reject a job. On the other hand, 80 percent of workers would keep a job with benefits rather than take one that offered more pay and no benefits. Clearly, well-defined benefits have an impact on potential employees.
Another benefit to a transparent HR system? It’s just more professional. Startup cultures might be informal and “cool,” but there’s nothing appealing about a company that doesn’t have its guidelines together. Make important decisions now so that every employee is on the same page when it comes to their rights and privileges.
2. Have a Separate Tool for Internal Communication
Unfortunately, this is a vital factor that many startups overlook. We might all use email, but that’s not a company-specific hub. Employees receive messages from all over the place in their inbox – clients, partners, coworkers, etc. This makes it tough to prioritize tasks and get things done on time.
To avoid inefficiency and confusion, adopting a tool that’s used strictly for internal communication, like Skype or Slack, can prove useful.
Don’t wait until the company is bigger or more successful to implement one; that will make the transition even harder. It takes time to learn a new system of communication, so execute it now while the company is growing and adapting.
Another reason a communication tool is key: people are working from all over the world, especially in new businesses. Home-based positions have grown by 140 percent since 2005, and it’s only becoming more common. Moreover, many startups these days work with freelancers and contractors to help with production. Avoid problems with time zones and long-distance conversations by giving everyone a central hub for internal communication.
3. Define a Process Template for Projects
A company is only as good as its internal processes. If that’s not a common saying among all startups, it should be. Shoddy project management will bleed into the customer experience sooner or later, especially if a company is continuously evolving. The quicker you establish a reliable project process in a startup, the better off you’ll be when it comes time to expand in the future.
As a startup, it’s sometimes difficult to predict how quickly or slowly your business will take off. You might think your team has things under control now, but what happens when your workload doubles? Triples?
A defined process management system for projects will help prepare for future growth and prevent things from slipping between the cracks. Additionally, it will help your team members hone their process for maximum efficiency.
For instance, Pipefy helps track sales in a step-by-step process, managing team tasks, organizing business contracts and measuring the company’s growth.
A centralized system that everyone can access is crucial for establishing healthy project workflows early on.
4. Relay Distinct, Overarching Expectations
When looking to the future, startups need to have firm expectations in place for both current and future employees. Everything from client communication etiquette to coworker relationships should be clearly outlined. There’s no room for fuzzy lines, even when a company is just beginning.
Additionally, the company culture should be present in all aspects of the workplace, from dealing with clients to hiring new employees. Positivity goes a long way in a company, and your culture should reflect high aspirations and productive, healthy energy. You may even want to create a motto for the brand that encompasses long-term goals and morals everyone can share.
If you’re worried that your goals are too ambitious, remind everyone that a big aspiration leads to bigger growth, better audiences, and new opportunities. However, you should also set attainable, smaller steps to reach these big goals. Give your employees clear objectives they can work toward that contribute to the overall success of the company.
The Bottom Line
We won’t lie: the first few months of a startup company can be a bit of a rollercoaster. It’s exciting and new, but also full of uncertainty. As you’ll probably notice, all of these habits help eliminate that unpredictability and foster a positive, professional work environment. Whether your startup is one day old or two years old, it’s never too soon to start acting like the successful company you hope to become one day. Use these habits to get there.