Operating A Company / Startup
Some random thoughts on how to better? operate a company :
Not everything is applicable to a single company but some points could be introduced slowly in a company.
- Don't have any formal CEO or Management Committee or alike.
- Possible approach : Favor a 2 years committee elected by the employees
- Don't look for any venture capital except if they want to fund you without any specific short-term return for them
- short-term return from the investor is often killing your initial clear focus on your product/service
- Allocate 20% of the employee time for doing fun and innovative stuff
- Make an innovative day every months where employee can show their results or non-results
- Don't bother employee with NDA or alike
- Don't bother employee with stupid IT tools or rules
- Keep them free to use their tools as long they keep the overall security of IT and they are able to work with the internal company tools
- That also why you have to use tools using free and open standards in the company
- Don't bother (too much) employee with administrative tasks
- Forcing employee to fill time sheet (with 15 minutes slot) is non-sense especially when is just there for filling disk space
- Don't be public listed for the majority of your share
- Just give an incentive to invest in your minimal share but keep always the control of the inner company. You don't want to be managed by people just wanting to increase the economical return of their own share.
- Always keep your customer free
- Customer lock-in is not a marketing tool. If you are running a web service company, always give them the possibility to keep their data and/or manage their full data.
- Don't lie to your customer
- Looks easy at a first glance but it will be the beginning of the troubles
- Forget about hierarchy and complex structure in the company
- Possible approach : Use a tagging approach to "define" the role of everyone
- Complex title is like a complex structure…
- Possible approach : Employee Number 23 - tag:operation,services,software engineering. Of course, you don't print the tag on the paper business card ;-) you don't want to waste money.
- Open Space ? only for brainstorming and collaborative development
- Software engineer (and others) requires calm. The famous 15 seconds interruption…
- A nice way is to have mobile users sharing office on demand. For example, if you have a specific software to debug and that you require calm. You can get a standalone office for 1 week on a simple request.
- Rely on open standard (format, protocol, message format, interface) for your internal (and external) operation
- Don't trust (mainly proprietary) software vendors when they claim to support open standard, ask for practical example. If your company relies on software developed by others companies, you must keep control on your internal operation (including the software in use to complete them). Select and use carefully software in your company. Free software often helps but you still have to select it very carefully too.
- The patent system is very expensive (money and time consuming). Does it worth to "invest" in such improbable (lottery) system ? It's often better to invest in the employee and the enhancement of your product or service.
- The patent system is often used as a defensive way against some companies playing unfair with the patent system. Red Hat is having a similar approach with the patent system. Unfortunately, patents are often used as an improbable metric to evaluate the innovation of a company or a country. You must be imaginative in order to show the innovation of your company by not using the patent system. Sometimes, scientific publication is a nice way to show the result/innovation of a company. (e.g. : Google is quite well known with their publication from Mapreduce to GFS and not really by their patents…)
- Do you really need account manager ? Customers should be in contact directly to the people doing the work… intermediate just lost information too often. Account manager is just part of the central administrative resources ? why complexify the relationship with your customers ?
- Have a simple remuneration scheme. Forget complex method of remuneration. It will be complex for managing it and a lot of employee won't be happy with the scheme.
- Avoid having a legal department. Just call a lawyer when really required. Before wondering about law, the business must run. I know that people will cry for saying that… but in other word, don't invent risks before having a real proof of their existence. Lawyers often love to create false risk.
Tags: startup idea innovation entrepreneurship company