Archive for : Startup

Maximising Your Time As A Startup

Time is progressive. There is a limit and you cannot get back what you have wasted. Working in a startup is fast, agile and demanding. Teams at startups work at least 40 – 50% more in a lifetime compared to an average worker. A great amount of time is spent on planning, innovating, execution and maintenance of a certain product / service / culture. As a startup, being aware of your time makes you ahead of time. Here are 5 ways you can maximise your time to stay ahead and build a progressive startup.

1. Set Short-Term Goals

Long-term goals is a point of victory. Develop shorter sprints to ensure higher intensity and regular wins. Sprinting allows for multiple checkpoints, this creates quicker decision making and assurance; pivoting if the need arises. Realise your short-term wins to fuel you; use them as your compass for the “what’s next” questions.

2. Utilise Your Calendar

Dates and time go in tandem. Don’t trust your brain to remember your appointments. Be intentional and set them on your calendar. If you have a smartphone with a calendar app, use it (find your calendar fit)! Make it a habit to create an ‘event’ in your calendar for all occasions, both work and personal – WIP meetings, interviews, team meetups, dinner dates, car wash. Use the ‘invite’ functions to ensure those attending are aware. Most importantly, check your calendar daily to ensure you do not over commit and respect each others’ time.

3. Have An Agenda

There is a saying in our company – “No agenda, no meet.”. The reason is simple and practical – if you call for a meeting, the intentions need to be clear, the achievements need to be made known so that all attendees are of the same mindset and can prepare beforehand. Since we work in a fast-paced environment, every minute counts in a meeting, make full use of it.

4. Be Productive, Not Busy

There is a stark difference between busy people and productive people. You can find a multitude of written articles about being busy vs being productive, but it all boils down to 3 keywords of a productive person – ‘focus’, ‘purpose’ and ‘executors’ (less talk, more action). So, do not be afraid to be less “busy”. Less is more, slow is fast.

5. “5-Minute Victories”

This is an effective method to maximise your time. The “5-minute victory” is simply a concept that suggest the usage of small windows of your time for smaller, less ‘brain juice’ tasks. The task may not be urgent, but rather important. For example, you will notice that in a day, you will have multiple time-outs (in-between meetings, breathers, waiting for your lunch buddies to wrap up), take advantage of these small windows of opportunity to reply quick emails, make that quick phone call, talk to that colleague that owes you a quick status update. Be aware of those small pockets of time and turn it into a win.

Owe it to yourselves, whether you are founders or co-workers of a startup, guard your time, use it to your best effort so that you can achieve so much more than what you set out to do. Remember to use your time for rest and fun too. Being in a startup ain’t just about the work – create a holistic and integrated approach to your startup career.  

Decision Making for Startups

Like it or not, decision making is part of life. We make decisions everyday, whether it’s to decide what’s for lunch, when’s a good time to get out of bed or the seemingly bigger ones like a choosing an investor or hiring a new talent – you get the drift.

Why is it that we can’t make decisions?

1. It’s people. As decisions sometimes affects others, it can be rather complex. It involves managing all the information going around, the emotions of the people involved and expectations of someone else.

2. It’s you. The fear of disappointing someone, failing, insecurities or simply just lacking knowledge and experience in the subject matter.

“No one makes perfect decisions. The idea is to choose to move ahead.”

Because of these fears, people tend to hold back, keep quiet, and wish for someone to say something.. or to look wise by saying “let’s think about it”.

The problem with thinking about it is that nothing gets done. Nothing. The problem is still there and you’re merely putting it off! More often than not, people get distracted by other priorities and eventually leads to not thinking about it – until it’s time to make a decision again.

Reality is also such that you don’t only make one decision per day. In fact, you make tons of them daily and by putting them off, you’re brewing a recipe for disaster as decisions piles up, and sometimes even snowballs from something harmless to something apocalyptic. And when it haunts you, you are cornered into deciding on whatever that helps, leaving little room for mistakes and time to rectify them.

Bad stuff.

What can you do to make decisions easier?

#1: Stop taking in information

The more you take in, the more you’re going to confuse yourself. Do your research, consult others, listen, but put a limit to the amount of information you’re taking in.

#2: Talk to yourself

Play out a conversation with yourself and be your own devil’s advocate. There’s magic in speaking out loud and you’ll be surprised at how you can land on an answer just like that.

#3: The 60-second rule

When it comes down to it, instead of saying “let’s think about it”, make a decision in 60 seconds. Sometimes, that won’t be the final decision, but it triggers a response from others and that brings you a step closer to what needs to be done.

#4: Vote

This isn’t my favourite but in a group of opinionated people, voting can weed out less popular ideas and get to the end quicker. However, note that the majority isn’t always right.

#5: Prioritize, divide, and conquer

In a situation where there are tons of decisions to be made, start with the easier ones (e.g. with smaller impact). You and your team strives on wins, getting smaller decisions out of the way generates the energy and synergy for the more critical ones.

#6: Build the “T”

In short, weigh the pros and cons by splitting them into each side of a “T”. List down all the possibilities that you can think of and make a decision out of them.

#7: Map your thoughts

This is my favourite. Like a mind map, start by placing your problem at the center and draw out questions like: Why is this a problem, what is the impact of this decision, who are the stakeholders, what are their goals, what are the potential solutions, what if I do otherwise, and the list goes on. Keep going until you’ve exhausted your thoughts and have sufficient information in front of you to proceed.

Stop thinking and decide!

Check out the presentation slides on SlideShare: http://www.slideshare.net/janwong/decision-making-for-entrepreneurs