1. How clear is the Vision & Mission statement for your organization?
Starting a journey without having clear understanding of where you want to go and why you want to go, will take you no-where. A clear definition of the purpose and the destination will allow you to wisely define how you reach there & by when. Design the mind map so it manifests in the right way. Stating the SPECIFIC mission and vision helps you find directions on the go. So while this is what you are going to drive throughout the life of the organization, does it not make sense to begin with this and define it clearly?
2. What are the values that the organization practices?
Values form the DNA of the organization that must reflect in everything that is related to the organization – services, people, behaviours & communication. It not only gives confidence to the customers but also the potential talent that may get hired to do the job. It helps them know what to expect. Hence it is imperative to define through a thought –
· What is that your customers & potential talent would expect from you? The values must be the same for both.
· What values give you an edge over the other competitive companies?
· What values can you truly practice and exhibit?
Define your vision, mission and values in simple words and what you truly believe. Fancy vocabulary doesn’t touch hearts.
3. Differentiate between cost and investments wisely.
Start-ups tend to be conservative on money matters and it is advisable too. But being over conservative about not having clarity of what is cost and what is investment may lead to mistakes that may look negligible today but may cost heavy in a longer run. The biggest mistake that one may do is by considering cost as money.
Understand, Investment is about money. Cost is much more than the money. Cost is what one may be missing out on – not only in terms of money, but also resources, time, efforts, clients, reputation, business and success.
Money spent on what gives a return in specific time that is aligned to the vision of the organization is an investment. Anything that doesn’t give returns aligned to the vision is a cost. This spend is unnecessary & unjustified at a given point in time.
An investment not done at the right time with a notion of it to be a cost may save you money right now but it is actually a heavy cost (cost of not making the right investment) that the organization may realise going forward.
For any start-up, set the mindset that one would have to initially spend good money for the sake of investments and hence the clarity of what truly is an investment and what is cost with a reference to time is a game changer.
KEEP THE VISION IN MIND FOR EVERY DECISION YOU TAKE.
For example –
Ø Building an impressive website with a clear understanding of whom is it meant for (customers or potential talent) & creating a social media presence is an investment. Don’t compromise on the quality.
Ø Hiring a huge bench of talent for a potential business may be a cost. Best is to build a warm pool ready to be hired. Or hiring support teams in the beginning is a big cost. Best is to outsource until the company stabilises to absorb the hiring cost.
Ø Not having the basic company policies & guidelines formalised is a cost. And hence having that in place is an investment.
Ø Lavish and classy workplace and facilities to impress talent or customers is a cost when you are starting. That may only attract for a while but will not ensure stability if the basics are not met.
Ø Automation of processes and systems is again a cost for the early years.
Ø One of the most significant elements that I would like to talk a little bit in detail is about HR because the cost of not understanding this aspect well is a big cost in itself.
HR is seen as cost and it’s alright as long as it means a team to execute day to day operations. But what usually start-ups tend to miss to understand is the importance of Strategic HR and mistake it by labelling that as a cost.
I very strongly believe, based on my personal experiences, observations and through the learning of others in the industry that the Strategic Business & Strategic HR thinkers are the pillars for any organization to succeed. And this stands more true for the start-ups – from the inception of any startup, these roles must go hand in hand to give a strong foundation to the vision of the organization. Both these roles are investments. It is like how essential it is to have both the parents from the day one for a new born – from the conception, to the birth and ultimately to bringing up the child in a way with common values and shared specializations, contributions & efforts.
Considering strategic HR as a cost and introducing it to the organization at a later stage has its own perennial issues and that proves to be a heavier cost to the organization in a longer run. Strategic HR must partner Business in even defining the vision, mission and values as they are the ones with onus of execution of the same from people’s perspective. I have personally seen companies struggling at a later stage where the time, money and effort just go in bringing compatibility between business and HR, managing conflicts, and introducing changes or building a culture. These issues not only affect productivity, quality, and relationships but also lead to higher attritions, poor market reputation & loss of management credibility.
So for a start-up with an existing international presence along with the strategic HR mind present there, it is okay to outsource the HR function for the first year or until the employee strength reaches 50. That’s when you may need an internal HR manager to manage employee grievances and be the bridge between management and employees. And a senior HR may later be hired when its time.
But in case of a startup with no presence of HR strategic mind to partner the business, it is strongly recommended to invest in a strategic HR role and have the day to day HR operations outsourced under the supervision of Strategic HR.
The role of HR must not be seen as just to be the custodian of people’s policies and processes, but it is much vast and crucial. No wonder HR has evolved to become the HR Business partner supporting & consulting the business from people’s perspective that business may tend to miss out on when their focus is intensely on business.
Therefore, for a long term success & stability of the organization, giving equal importance to business and people is essential. And an important question to objectively ask yourself before avoiding a spend is – what is the cost of not having it now?
4. Hiring the right attitude –While hiring talent for their skills is important for any organization, it holds much more value for start-ups where one is very judiciously spending money, to also hire the people with the right attitude. Skills can be learnt but it is difficult to change the attitude. I personally have never compromised attitude over skills and that has always paid me back in lot of ways – be it low attrition, higher productivity, great impact on customers, lesser conflicts and so on. Hire people who are flexible, willing to stretch themselves, are jack of multiple traits to chip in for stuff that may not require an additional hiring.
The above things are highly significant elements that ensure success and hence must not be ignored or compromised. Start smart!