Last year a friend of mine offered me a partnership share in a tech start-up. This company is very early stage, and there is a lot of work to be done to make an idea an actual company or even a project. I thought what they were doing was a great idea, so I accepted. The company is called Dragonfly Energy and we have developed an awesome process that will allow us to make li-ion batteries at a low cost. I promise to write a follow up blog next week about the company, who we are, what we do and why we do it better than anyone else. But for today let’s focus on some of the main things that will help your start-up succeed.
Often time’s people who are running early stage start-ups are inexperienced at business. They are definitely smart people; just not business people. They get so focused on proving and developing the technology, they lose track of costs, things like material costs, rent, phone service, and utilities. All of these things add up and deduct from your bottom line. This often leads to the failure of the company. In a start-up from day one, you need to be aware of and monitoring costs. The company has to be founded on the idea of doing more with less. It’s important to have someone on board that can focus on this, while the engineers and scientist are developing the product. Control your costs and spend as little as possible, this will give you a better chance at success.
Of course in a small company, with limited staff and resources, there will be challenges. First there will be a lot of stress, due to lack of funding and resources. Sometimes there is so much stress and pressure to succeed it can affect the cohesiveness of your team. As a team leader you need to be an example of managing stress and pressure. You also need to give your team a break every once in a while, take them to do something fun. Encourage them to take a long weekend or to get a hobby outside of the start-up. It will be more beneficial to have a balanced team moving forward, there is a lot work to do.
The last point I want to make ties into the second one directly. As a leader in a start-up, as a new CEO, you need to be a “real” leader. Take time to learn about management and managing people. This includes hiring, firing and training your team. That’s right it’s a start up and you have to wear more than one hat. You will need a great team to delegate too, one that can get the job done right, after all you can’t do it alone. You clearly don’t have the money to hire an HR manager, so you need to know this stuff. Bottom line if you can’t manage people, you and your team will most likely never get anything done.
These are just a few things that are important in launching a successful start-up. As Dragonfly Energy matures, I am sure I will have more to share. Any skills that you want to add from personal experience? Feel free to comment.