Sunday, March 22, 2015

Wrong focus in the startup buzz

Following the startup buzz - the news, the mentorship programs, the blogs - one easily gets the impression that the most important things for a startup are pitching, finding capital and creating an exit strategy. Well, in my experience this is wrong and perhaps one of the reason for over-emphasizing these topics is the hunt for news.
 The event of getting funded is usually presented as a huge success story in the press. It is rarely mentioned that the investors do want their money (x20) back, the sooner the better and it is the startup who has to deliver that. Getting funded is rarely presented as giving 3 drops of blood to the VC, but in a way it is so.
 Similarly controversial is the buzz around Exits. The Exits do make good news as someone makes millions with them. At the same time the news do not mention that for a successful exit the company needs to maximise the income from customers (short termp profits prevale), minimize personell costs (keep only the employees needed for day to day operations) and sell the whole thing to a corporation who then merges the employees and business to its big machinery.

 While pitching, funding and exits get a lot of attention in the startup buzz then one rarely sees any coverage about people management. It seems that management, coaching, training and developing the team are something only the big companies need and that are irrelevant in startups. And this, of course, is absolutely wrong. I have managed a number of different teams and I have never seen a person who just works. Everyone wants to know where is the company going, what is his/her personal development plan and wants to have his/her say in how to organize the work in the best way. These, among with topics like handling relationships, communication in the team, solving problems and finding the best way eveyone can contribute, are areas where startups and all other businesses do need mentoring and focus also.

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