There are a lot of lessons to learn when becoming a good entrepreneur. Kudobox helped taught me a great deal, and I’ve found that the most important lesson in being an entrepreneur is this:
Minimize the things you don’t love doing.
When we launched Kudobox I tried to be a jack-of-all-trades, from coding to promotion. I tried doing everything, but that ended up being a terrible strategy. Needless to say this strategy quickly backfired. I didn’t have enough money to delegate most tasks. I clenched my teeth as I slowly moved from one task to another, and I lost interest very fast. Something as simple as motivating my team became overwhelming, and I had to rethink things.
With Yay4Monday I decided to delegate all tasks that required an expert. I hired a designer to create an up-to-date website. I hired a front-end developer to run the site. I hired freelancers to transcribe my interviews and edit my articles. I even delegated a creation of some content to my business partners. As a result, there are two vital improvements when compared to my first project.
The first one is that I see the constant progress despite me not investing enough time on some weeks. The second improvement is that I have fun working on Yay4Monday as I’m able to focus on the tasks that I enjoy.
Having a team that can collaborate and work with you is one surefire way to make change happen.
Many companies I visited during my tour have supportive networks which help employees run experiments. For example, if you’re an employee at Futurice and want to organize a meet-up, folks from Human Care team will help you with administrative stuff. You can work with them get an external venue, some food and drinks, and a basic promotion. Collaborating with mentors and coaches could cover all the needs any person could have to make a real change.
At Vincit photos of members from a support team hung on a kitchen wall. Any employee could reach them in case they needed help with initiatives, from buying a ping pong table to running a music festival. Ministry is smaller in size, and most support functions are distributed between a leadership team. Partners at Ministry see themselves in the future as only playing service roles.
Just remember that having a supportive network doesn’t mean the employees should delegate everything and sit back to do nothing. The networks simply help to run experiments less scary.
Several years ago I came up with an idea of internship program. We were not the only team in the company who needed good developers but we were the only one who tried to do something in that direction. We didn’t get much support and had to do everything by ourselves: developing educational program, promoting, selecting candidates and mentoring them. We hired one person out of three or four students – not a bad result at all. Nevertheless we never did it again as it contained too much administrative burden.
Getting guidance in planning and managing such initiatives help employees become engaged, and if they can make the magic happen, they are eager to do it again.
If you don’t understand why your employees are not proactive in improving the organization, check your supportive networks. You might find none.