Managing a Startup

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

Managing a Startup - ESTEEM 1 Year Masters in Startups from Notre DameManaging small startups are different than managing large corporations. Budgets are smaller, teams are smaller, employees tend to be stretched more than employees at large corporations. Here is a short list of items managers should remember when leading a startup.

1) Be quick but don't be frantic - One of the great things about managing a startup is that things can move quickly. It leads to many iterations that often create a better product. However, one of the problems many employees have of managers is that they move too quickly so the idea you had last week is now completely obsolete. A way to avoid seeming frantic and remaining agile is to help your employees understand the process and the larger goals. This will allow for employees to understand how each iteration can change without completely changing an entire plan. 

2) Talk a lot - Communication is key to any business or organization's success. In many companies, employees often separate their tasks from the larger goal - it's important to make sure everyone realizes how their piece fits into the whole project. This will also go a long way with the "be quick not frantic" idea as it will allow your team to fully understand what is going on and will keep them agile. Be sure to talk not only about vision but also stay informed about each project. For small companies it is important for the manager to have their finger on the pulse of what is going on. 

3) Be Positive - Business is tough and it tends to be even tougher for small companies, so it's important, as a manager, to stay positive. Make sure every success is celebrated and that failures are simply learning experiences. With more one on one contact in small companies, the manager of a startup has the ability to really show leadership in this way. If you start sensing negativity be sure to find the cause of negativity (sometimes it's a negative personality or it could be someone just doesn't understand the vision or goals) and take steps to root it out. 

4) Take Responsibility of the Bad and Give Credit for Good - Many in the startup world are new at leading so this tends to be one of the most difficult tasks. The leader is responsible for anything that goes wrong even if they had were not necessarily the cause. However, on the opposing end, when things go right, it is not your success, it's everyone's success. This takes maturity and a team focused mentality, as well as someone who is focused on the product more than their ego.

5) Be a Teacher and a Student - It's easy to get caught up in the business portion of running a business and lose sight of what really makes a good manager - the ability to lead. This leadership, most importantly, means the ability to share vision and teach your employees. Since as a leader of a startup you probably know more about the product than anyone, you need to be able to teach others what you know. The more that your entire team understands the product the more they will be able to work toward the same end goal. However, you also have to be able to listen to your team. You have a vision of the product but if someone on the user experience team says that vision is lacking something, you have to be able to learn and adapt. This portion will help with all of the above mentioned tasks of a great startup manager. 

This short list is by no means exhaustive, so what other things can a startup manager do to make sure they are managing their team effectively?