May 23, 2020

Growth Leap: How to Simplify Your Startup Management in Crazy Times

Michel Gagnon
Michel Gagnon
CEO of Stun&Awe

Six months ago, you thought your business was scaling up nicely. Now, it feels like your business is a case study for Murphy’s law - whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. You feel more like a firefighter putting out emergencies than a team leader.

Your backend team is in a spat with the UX gurus. The quality assurance analysts message you every hour saying they can’t test for bugs if there’s no product coming down the pipe. On top of that, your inbox has 220 unread emails and counting!

Perhaps worse yet, when you’re not focused on work your newsfeed reminds you of slumping global markets. The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t making things any easier for businesses to stay afloat.
To stay focused and effective, you need a simple system to manage successfully all the challenges that life will throw at you and your business.

What can be done?

Lately you’ve been thinking that it would be nice if one of the following things could happen:

  1. The world could slow down
  2. You could win back a few hours of your day to manage your stress and focus on scaling your business

Unfortunately, it’s not likely that #1 will ever happen. Luckily, there is a way to achieve #2.

You need to start thinking about your business in terms of systems and stop improvising. Instead of managing a to-do list, a simple and effective business growth and management system will help you get clarity, feel less stressed, and get better results.

We have designed our Growth Leap System based on 15+ years of experience. It includes four essential elements and a series of tools to help you run your business like a boss. Let’s look into these four essential elements.

Element One: Strategy

In a growing startup, spending time on giving clear directions can literally 10X your company output and results. It’s probably one of the management levers most under utilized by startup leaders. But strategy too often ends up being a long and detailed slide deck hidden somewhere or a high-level fluffy statement.

A strategy is not a muddled document that describes what your business is currently doing, then promptly collects dust on the shelf. Designing a strategy isn’t an activity you do to “check a box.” A good one is visible, clear and meaningful.

A strategy is also not a list of your goals. Instead, a good strategy is the way that you achieve your goals. It’s the types of questions you ask yourself and the types of decisions you’ll make along the way to get to your goal.

At Stun and Awe, strategy incorporates a few key components:

A good strategy involves asking important questions such as: Are you targeting the right customers? Are you in the right market? Is your operational model scalable? It’s also designed to be easily trackable and communicated.

Element Two: People

The second element focuses on getting the right people on the team, supporting their growth, and making sure you foster the right culture. That’s one of the toughest parts of running a tech startup.
The best way to lower your stress and simplify your business is to take a step back and evaluate your team. When you have the right people in the right seats, life gets so much better.

To assess one of your employees check if they have the ambition, the understanding, and the skills to perform in their role. An employee who doesn’t want the role is at the wrong place. An employee who doesn’t understand what you expect from the role is at the wrong place. For an employee who doesn’t have the skills yet to do the job, well... it depends on the answers to the first two questions.
With a good strategy that informs your hiring process, you should also start asking yourself important questions like:

  • Am I promoting people who will contribute positively to our company culture?
  • Is the organisational structure helping or hurting productivity?
  • Do the teams have the right mindset for us to scale?

There’s a proverb that says:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

The effort and time you invest in your people will almost always pay off.

Element Three: Execution

With the first and second elements of a business management system incorporated into your company, don’t just think that you can sit back and relax. Your business still needs to master the third element - execution. Companies go bust because they can’t execute well.

You may have the most clever strategy, but you still need to execute your plan. You may have world class players on your team, you can still fail at delivering. Ask Brazil when they played Germany at the 2014 World Cup.

To execute like clockwork, you need a combination of well chosen KPIs, a disciplined mindset, a few lean processes, and strong problem solving skills. What can you expect if you got that right?

  • You’ll be able to scale more efficiently
  • Your resources will be allocated properly
  • Your teams will be more accountable to one another
  • You’ll start shipping like never before

Element Four: Sustainability

The last element, sustainability, permeates all others. There have been many studies who found that sustainability-conscious companies have quite consistently outperformed their peers. But that’s not really why we included that into our system.

We are interested in building businesses that create a positive impact. With a sustainability mindset, your business becomes a true agent of change and gets better at the same time.

There’s a way to include sustainability into your business without having to hire a whole new department. We don’t believe in analysis paralysis. We believe in starting. Think about:

  • Potential negative impacts your business operations can have on the environment or community. If you run a tech company, think about your servers, data, privacy.
  • Key people/group of people who could be impacted by your business.
  • A series of initiatives to measure and reduce/eliminate that negative impact.

In the end, having the right sustainability mindset will influence how you hire and empower your employees, how you design new products, and how you run your daily operations.

The Benefits of a Good Business Growth Strategy

A good business growth and management system can help boost your company’s success and radically improve your life as a business leader. By following through with the four elements - Strategy, People, Execution and Sustainability, you’ll start to notice a huge impact:

  • Reduced stress
  • Less time spent in calls and meetings
  • Boosted team productivity
  • Bigger positive impact

With a simplified business and more time on your hands, you can accomplish much more than the daily firefighting that you’ve become accustomed to.

Sounds too good to be true? Maybe, but we’ve done it and can help you do it too. If you’re ready to manage differently, check out Growth Leap coaching or our upcoming online course. We’ll show you how

to manage your business with simplicity, predictability, and a conscience. Sign up to get exclusive updates, early discounts and be the first to have access to new courses.