If you've just kicked off your business, it can be hard to get your voice heard at first. But being a novice can also be an advantage. You're fresh, your ideas are new and you haven't fallen into the dull office routines like the Fortune 500 companies.
Here are 10 tips for your startup to keep the cogs and wheels turning the right way:
1 - Water Cooler Discussions:
Hire enthusiastic and passionate employees who believe in your company's vision. Then, allow these people to meet each other regularly during office time, interacting through social media, having face-to-face conversations and lunching together. Did you know that one of Facebook's milestone was achieved by three engineers who met at the water cooler?
Similarly, it is also crucial to have experienced members talk to the newbies. This ensures a mix of experience and innovation - a killer combination for a start up. A lot of companies make the mistake of alienating the juniors from the seniors because high-level executives shouldn't be 'bothered'. This leads to demotivation. Further, a junior will never learn as much from another junior as he would learn from the experience of a chief officer.
2 - Networking with Influencers:
Everyone needs inspirations. Getting inspired doesn't mean cheating on any one's ideas. Actually, no idea that pops up in our minds is new. It is merely that we learn to connect different dots to create exciting combinations. Network with the influencers of your field so you can be inspired by their advice.
Observe them and find out what they did that have made them so powerful today. Benchmarking surveys can help you determine goals for your own company and they will also point you to your unique selling point.
3 - Subscribing to Relevant Newsletters:
You can't always attend workshops, seminars and training sessions or hang out with industry experts in cocktail parties. But a subscription of an-email-a-day from a resourceful blog can charge your brain cells. Search for blogs that provide authentic advice and cover news related to your field. Subscribe to these blogs to keep a constant feed coming to your Inbox.
A word of caution: overdoing subscriptions is going to have the opposite impact.
4 - Brainstorming with the Whole Team:
Got a project? Need ideas? Bring the entire team in. Brainstorming with all stakeholders on the table ensures that a) you're covering all aspects of the project, b) you're making room for spontaneity and c) you're creating a "think tank". You don't always have to follow everyone's advice, but just listening to them will spark ideas.
David Ogilvy said, "The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible." When was the last time you were funny on your own? Exactly. When you're talking with the entire team, you're giving light humour a chance which in turn is charging your grey matter. It's no rocket science.
5 - Listening to the Customer:
Yes, you've probably heard this countless number of times in blogs and articles on marketing. But we're not talking about software that helps you follow social media conversations. We're talking real face-to-face interactions, surveys and observations. Go where your customer is, understand how he uses your products and services, study his background, ask why he makes the choices he makes and pay attention to what he needs.
A lot of companies churn out services without bothering to look back to check what impact they're having on their customer's lives. Follow up on them via e-mail and ask for feedback. Some of the shrewdest and smartest business maneuvers in history were the result of unique "insights".
6 - Find Your Niche:
Highlight the points of friction your prospective customers face. How can you reduce their pain? Can you offer them something that no one else has offered yet? Find a niche for your business. There must be something that sets you apart from the rest and which gives your customers a reason to come to you instead of anyone else. This unique selling point doesn't necessarily have to be a product feature. It could be a status symbol, a perception, locality, customer relations, loyalty programs or perks etc.
7 - Focus on Progress:
Starting off, focus on achieving goals. Focus on getting there. As the Facebook mantra goes: "Done is better than perfect". Because technology is moving fast, being the first one to do something puts you in the spotlight. This also means that you'll sometimes fall on your face. Gauge the risks and learn to make informed decisions - getting gutsy every now and then.
8 - Encourage Smart Failure:
You'll fail. It's inevitable. It has happened to the best of the best and will continue to happen because we can never be perfect. However, smart startups know how to get up when they fall.
Encourage your employees to take risks and push their boundaries everyday. If they won't challenge themselves, they won't challenge the status quo and they'll never break the noise. But there are types of failures. The type you should promote is smart failure: where your employees take responsibility for their actions; where you come short of achieving your goals but learn from the experience, pick up the pieces, rethink your strategy and move on with new knowledge.
9 - Collaborate:
Some people underestimate the value of startups. They'll consider you naive and dumb. Fight off this perception by collaborating with authentic voices in your field. Bring an experienced director on the board or contribute in a popular event where the world is sure to be listening. On your own, it's hard to get by. Use your PR and attach yourself to trustworthy names to help you on your way to making a name for yourself.
10 - Think Outside the Cubicle:
Let go of the cubicle culture. A startup needs all of its resources and can't afford to waste any. Use your entire day, inside or outside the office, to gain inspirations and insights for your business. If you're passionate about what you do, this will come naturally. You'll look at everything as an opportunity - whether you're taking a walk in the park or watching the New Year's fireworks. A good startup leader lends his vision to everything around him.
The millennials have brought in a new culture for companies. They're least motivated through materialistic gains, they want self-actualisation, they want lesser rules and greater connectivity. A startup can benefit from charging these millennials and using their drive to grow a business. Hopefully, these ten tips will help you recharge your workplace. If you have ideas about how startups can stay creative, or have your own experiences to share, tell us in the comments below!