A colleague of mine said recently, whether a veteran startup junkie or a newbie to the industry, “Startups are hail – H-A-IL!” at the close of my first year of startup experience.
It is fast-paced, changes are faster, and it is more important to be able to shift quickly. The flip side is that learning curves are shorter, responses are more precise, and you can see the fruits of your labor often multiple times per day.
The business concept may be fast-paced and hectic, but that doesn’t mean builders should not focus on the foundation with intention right from the start. Make an effort to consider each decision with a long-term, big-picture perspective. While you might be building initially, scalability and growth must be viewed from the beginning. A house built from cards is difficult to repair.
Set the baseline
There is a single established technology baseline. It becomes more challenging to unravel the layers of technology that are added on top of this baseline. Each step in the construction of the technology environment must be perfect.
There is no pressure.
Consider each step carefully and consider all possible angles. Ask for feedback, brainstorm, call a friend. What are the next steps?
The budget is usually within the expectation that best-practice will be delivered within a limited timeframe.
Startups that are designed are lean to the bone at their inception and highly focused on value when it comes to spending and systems. Even though startup budgets are tight, it is worth having a recommendation session if the best-aligned solution turns out to be the most expensive. You only get one chance to build best-practice solutions from scratch. If you can prove the value, then you have a chance of success. Nothing gained from failure is worth the effort.
Measure twice and cut once
Technology can be a pain when you are a cog in the machine. The most frustrating technology problems come from obsolete systems and legacy debt. It’s not only difficult to solve these historical problems but also routine and mundane. Most technology leaders are solution-seekers and know what to do, how to involve, and who to involve.
But start-ups, in building a future-proofed-ish infrastructure, take deliberation. Re-think the steps you have taken. Think about the potential growth opportunities in the future. Is the selected step supporting that growth? If yes, plan for implementation and document it.
Think moments again before you implement. Is this still the best foundation layer? Refrain from overthinking this; remember that you cannot measure twice and cut ultimately. Each build layer supports the following: the business systems, collaboration solutions, and the means to generate revenue.
Each cut can either support or hinder a successful startup.
The atmosphere at the startup was overwhelming for me as a veteran leader in higher education. It was like being at the ending of a year-long ice bucket challenge. Breathe in the chaos.
Every leader must find inner peace. Recognizing the importance and value of your team’s success is essential.
Harried makes mistakes.
Rapid growth can make it challenging to catch up.
Reactive thinking can lead to a lack of clarity and confusion about the future.
A startup team should reflect the spirit of its leader in all aspects. While a fierce hustle culture is great for movies, it doesn’t build long-term team or product success.
You can be a pillar of serenity and effectiveness. Both can be complementary. Creativity is something we have within us. Without support, even if it’s quick in a startup environment, innovative sparks quickly turn into generic, and often, the same way we’ve always done them.
Take advantage of the only chance.
Each startup business has one chance to build everything from scratch. It’s the framework of technology. It doesn’t matter if you make software, a physical object, or an office. If you do it right, each stage can be challenging to reverse. Therefore, intentionality is crucial.
Do not waste this one chance, that one minute in founder time, on self-doubt and overthinking. Iterative is more efficient, sustainable, and scalable than trying to achieve perfection.
Although significant work can be difficult, focusing on the basics (including health and well-being) can lead to meaningful change and disruption. It’s essential to keep it simple, but you must do your best work.