How can a startup be successful when all of the founders are also working separate jobs?
I don't want our startup to fail. All of our founders are also working other jobs to continue to get the right training, mitigate risk, and have an income. How can we give our startup a good chance to succeed, but also being realistic about real life needs?
Hi Spandan, congratulations to you and your founding partners on your venture. While your instance is challenging it is an even more an amazing opportunity. It's a good place to start (with that in mind). During start-up you will have to work harder than you have ever worked before and that includes keeping the roof over your head, food in your belly and all that.
So, how do you keep it together? 1) create the vision of what your efforts will produce and ensure that ALL founders are in agreement, 2) create a plan that ensures EVERYONE knows their role and their responsibilities, 3) have a frank discussion amongst the founders and determine who is and who is not able to commit (it doesn't get easier; some may/should go) and 4) create the time needed to accomplish 1 and 2 (once the start-up phase is over the new company will replace the other jobs you all currently do).
Ed makes some very good points. I would echo and add a few things...Starting a new business is challenging under any circumstances, and it is even more difficult if the owners cannot focus on it full time. However, that does not at all mean that it cannot be done. In fact, having other sources of income takes some of the early pressure off to get things done quickly in the new business.
As Ed suggested, make sure the roles are clearly defined between your partners. I would further add that you should draw a functional org chart for your business without any names, and then make sure you assign a name to each function, so nothing falls through the cracks (including the overall leadership or managing partner role).
Preferably avoid normal mistakes in your new business, since that will sop up a lot of your time unnecessarily. With all the new businesses I have observed and have worked with, the biggest mistake is in having ineffective marketing. In addition, lacking professional assistance and doing the things to generate early and quick cash are close behind in mistakes.
I know it sounds self serving, given my profession, but retaining someone like me or Ed or someone similar you are comfortable with will add a business expert to your team who will ensure focus on the right things for starting a successful business. Yes, that costs money, but I have a long list of start-up failures where the biggest reason for it was the owners not recognizing they did not know it all - or if they did know it, they failed to get help.
Lastly, with respect to early marketing, I put a video together about some groundbreaking current marketing information that you can obtain for free by going to this link: http://bit.ly/EverythingHasChangedVideo
I wish you all great success!
To get on the right foot, you need clear vision and well as clear understanding of the roles and commitment each person is willing to provide. If you don't have a business plan and partnership agreement in place -- that should be your first step. Also discuss your "escape plan" - how you are going to handle things if one of the founders backout? Are the other three free to do it without him? Does he still get a percentage of the profits? Is he still responsible for part of the investment. My recommendation is to figure all this out on paper first -- including measurable and SMART goals for your company. If people are not achieving their SMART goals - then continually re-evaluate your core commitment to the start-up.
1. One of the founders spend all the time managing the start-up, with income contributed by the other founders or from friends, relatives or some kind of financing, and an extra portion of company shares for the trouble/risk; or
2. You use that same financing to hire a manager who has the time to do it, and will take less current income in exchange for non-control share ownership in a portion less than the founders' shares.
If none of the founders believes in the idea/company enough to take the risk of spending full time on developing it, then the idea is either not worth the commitment/risk, or you need to have someone do it for you.
1st off congrats at taking the 1st steps to job freedom, notice I didn't say financial freedom lol. that takes a bit more time :)
this is a lot harder, I don't want to say it's impossible but I will say it's harder and slower. because of the time dedicated
below are a few points I would suggest. Now, Not knowing the type of business it's harder for me to say the below will make sense, but this is a general plan of action.
1. Each partner is provided a job/task that is important to the growth of the business.
2. The team, together must set weekly/monthly goals as to what part of the business they are working on & what goal they have for the week/month.
3. YOU need to hit all short term and long term goals.
4. Set goals in order of importance, importance is simple, Will this task/goal make us money? IE set up a website, add content to website , work social media, all ways to drive traffic and sales.
5. Each partner needs to hold up their end of the bargain and stay at pace with the goals.
6. Set goals so that 5 to 6 hours a week min, they should be achieved (or what ever amount of time each of you agree to work on the business)
7. it will cost you more, but worth it. have professionals do task that you can't to make sure they are done correctly. (website design, social media marketing, taxes ect)
8. Give up one day of the weekend towards a 6 to 8 hour day dedicated to the business. (sorry no pain no gain brother)
9. Plan Plan Plan, oh did I suggest plan. You can't move forward if you don't have the road map set for you. There is no navigation app for business builder :). You will be surprised in business how a company with full time owners waste time, because they are not set with a plan of action with goals that make quick short term profits.
10. Hire a consultant, you will be surprised on how inexpensive one is for an email consultation or skype consulting. They can shed a ton of light and provide shortcuts that will save you a TON of time.
11. Get your products/services making cash ASAP. I know this sounds silly, but you will be surprised as to all the crap people do and think is making sense for their business. Sell Sell Sell.
12. No one takes a dime of profit, until you have enough in the bank to cover the most inexpensive partners salary for 1 full year. Thank one make moves into the business and must make a difference in profits.
13. Even if you do, make sure you have what it takes to cut the safety lines of a paying job and jump into the unknown of your own business.
And remember this very simply ideal, if you try and fail (which you won't) but if you try and fail, you have succeed just for trying. So many others sit and dream of starting a business and make excuses as to why they can't do it.
Look beyond the PT excuse and make it happen. Be there for each other, keep each other in check and at pace, don't leave a man down, your business is only as good as the weakest link.
You got this, time is a theory that Einstein knew more of, we common folk have no clue what time is lol.
make it happen buddy.
Advise us as to how things are going, I would love to know of your progress
All the best to your success Auggie
Senior Consultant @ Ask8
Congrats on creating your start-up! In the midst of everyday life and all partners involved working full time it'll be quite a challenge to just "make it work". Ed has made a great suggest in his #2, which is basically going to be the heart of your operation.
By having each partner focusing on a specific area, it creates accountability and responsibility. This way there is no overlapping and certain action items won't get pushed on the back-burner. In today's era of technology there are no excuses for not completely knowing what the other is doing. Perhaps all of you can set one or two days a week to meet via Skype, especially if one or more partners has kids. Trust me when i tell you it's not easy with that element but if you have later times after work it makes it easier to get everybody's undivided attention.
Create your plan with checklists and goals. Make your goals attainable and remember that small victories set you up for big wins. Because without it, you'll never survive. This will also help everybody see who's serious about this new venture by seeing who is putting in the time and who isn't. With all due respect, don't be surprised if you go from 4 partners to 3. Sometimes people bite off more than then an chew and should that come to light, better to find out now in the beginning than when something of high priority is on the line.
Start to build your professional and industry networks People, such as this group, can provide valuable experience that you won't get anywhere else. If you're business deals in consumer products, walk around a tradeshow and bring a ton of business cards. Some if not all states that you register your business in, provide professional advice (for free) from experts that have been in your shoes and love helping start-ups and watching people succeed. Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions.
Lastly, remember to have fun. Create an atmosphere that keeps you coming back. Every now and again, reward yourselves when you hit a big milestone (a group dinner for example). It'll make it feel real and make you want to get back to work.
I started a company with my brother just like you 4 years back where we both working with other companies. We did job for 2 years and till that time found 3-4 committed people to carry on operations on full time basis. Important thing was to sustain and keep building the strong base investing part of our salary and not taking away any profit home but to invest in company. At the end of four years we are at the end of 2nd year business cycle considering industry standards which means that time is most important investment and longer you take to go full time, expect the delay in getting results as per industry business cycle.
It's smart of you and your business partners to keep steady incomes while you formulate your business idea, even while it is frustrating to be splitting your focus between your full-time roles and your startup. Each of your time is more limited than it should be, so make sure you are all making the most of it. As others suggested below, sit down and clearly define each partner's role and responsibility in the business. Set a meeting once a week or every other week for each partner to share what they're working on, what they've completed and what is holding them up. Knowing what each partner is prioritizing ensures no one is working on the same thing and it lengthens the limited time each of you has to spend on your startup. Use this time to craft your business plan and build your network. Eventually, to succeed you and your partners will have to decide when is the right time to leave your current roles to focus on the startup full-time. The Business.com team recently published this guide which can help you to decide if you're ready: Quitting Your Day Job for Your Startup.
The only way I see a startup being successful while founders are busy doing other jobs is to find a manager with as much passion, insight and dedication as those who founded the startup. Honestly when it comes to a startup, you have got to be willing to dedicate the time effort and devotion that it will take to make it successful. Success will never be truly measured by any companies bottom line, it will truly be measured by the number of happy customers and their willingness to introduce people they know and love to you.
That is a good question. You only get out what you put in. If you want to get your business off to a flying start just like a airplane taking off you need to generate a certain amount of thrust. other wise the plane can not get lift off. This can be looked on as commitment, you will all need to carefully look at what you want to achieve, and the time you want to achieve it by. Hence you need a good plan. But there are other factors to consider, but hopefully those will be picked up by other contributors.