The road to success is laden with speed bumps, habits being one of the big ones. Habits, the bad ones in particular, are deceptively alluring. Humans tend to affix with habits and long before we realise, we become submissive slaves to them. This is worse when there is a goal ahead and habits become these invisible fences barricading us from attaining what we set out to. Quite relatable for entrepreneurs, isn’t it?
How often does it happen that a hustling entrepreneur sets out to create a ground-breaking business armed with some brilliant ideas; but falls short half way through like an abandoned marathon? Owning a startup is, as we all know, less like a sprint and more like a marathon. And that’s the good news! Unlike a sprint, a marathon has room for error, but also room for corrective action. While certain habits are detrimental to business growth, there is no reason why they cannot or should not be overcome.
The Startup Observer observes three such pernicious habits that many budding and established entrepreneurs tend to develop. We also offer some wisdom on how to ditch them.
- Over Committing: One shouldn’t bite off more than s/he can chew. The cliché sadly lives. Our passion and sincerity sometimes backfire when we take on more responsibility than we can handle resulting in failing to fulfill any of them. Some people really thrive under pressure and deadlines, but often, over-committing proves to be recipe for a burnout. Balance here is the key, and a few pointers can ease that out for entrepreneurs:
a) The Magical Planner: It’s the simple things that make a big difference. Having a diary/planner is the best way to keep a track of what your day looks like and how much you can accommodate. Once you are armed with information about your own bandwidth, saying ‘NO’ becomes simpler and you can substantiate your response with your grocery list.
b) Passing the buck: Every management book emphasises on the importance of delegating. That doesn’t mean dumping your to-do list on someone else and playing video games on your computer. The art of delegating lies in recognising the skills of your subordinates/peers and then allotting them tasks to optimise their time and skills. Social skills, negotiation tactics, and people management skills are equally important in this regard.
- Unoptimised Meetings: There is a thin line that distinguishes the hours spent in a meeting from the hours wasted in a meeting. That thin line is ‘productivity’. Meetings are necessary tools for business, however, entrepreneurs (especially the rookie ones) must understand that ‘discussions’ are of no value unless they deliver a measurable outcome. Conducting an effective meeting, thankfully isn’t rocket science. Here are some ways to optimise them:
a) Preparation: Setting a clear agenda not only helps in streamlining talking points but keeping the discussions focussed and outcome driven.
b) Limiting the participants: Two elementary purposes of adjourning a meeting are ideas and decisions. Therefore, it makes sense to invite participants who can contribute ideas and aid in decision making. As severe as it may seem, there is no point in including a multitude of people unless they bring something valuable to the table.
c) Recording the meeting: We don’t mean having a tape recorder (although that helps), but keeping a record of the discussion is a necessity. Having a designated person to note down and circulate the Meeting Minutes or Minutes of the Meeting not only helps in determining whether a meeting has been successful but also use those notes for reference when required.
d) Call to Action: Right from a brainstorming session to closing a business deal, if a meeting ends with no call to action, it can hardly be considered a productive one. A good manager knows that an effective meeting must deliberate on the next steps. The participants must walk out of the conference room (or hang up the phone) fully aware of what they are required to do as a follow-up to the discussion.
- The Monica Geller Syndrome: No, that’s not a real thing! We just made it up, but you get the drift, right? Unlike Monica Gellar, an entrepreneur cannot afford to be a perfectionist if s/he wants to get things done. Being a perfectionist is a great quality to possess as that indicates you always aim for top notch quality. However, when there are deadlines to meet, waiting for everything to be perfect doesn’t quite pay off. It’s understandably frustrating for a perfectionist to deliver a half-baked product, but there are ways to find a common ground.
a) Kissing good bye to micro management: Perfectionists have a latent tendency to peer over shoulders of others after assigning them a task, both literally and metaphorically. People do not appreciate this lack of trust, and often find it interfering as well as distracting. While the drive to get things done well is great, it’s best to give employees their space to complete the assignment. The best way is to give a clear brief and a deadline and touch base with her/him at pre-defined points to check their progress.
b) Soft Launch and Hard Launch: Things are rarely perfect in life, and sometimes the best way forward is to simply go ahead and launch the product or service that you have been working on. This is where the marketing methods ‘Soft Launch and Hard Launch’ come into play. As an entrepreneur, if you feel unsure of your product, the best way forward is a soft launch. This limits the visibility to a targeted audience and gives you ample time to iron out any pressing issues before marketing it to a larger consumer base (the hard launch). In case, it’s a product or service dedicated to a single client, soft launch method can still be utilised by releasing the product to a limited number of stakeholders at the client companies before the big shots can have a look.
c) Phased Rollouts: Phased Rollout is an implementation strategy that was devised for software and hardware migration, but could easily be customised for other areas like the launch of a website. The phased rollout implementation strategy makes it easier to control and follow up a project divided into well-defined phases, and reduces project risks.