As a new leader, there’s an exciting sense of accomplishment when you deem your company “open for business.” However, there are multiple decisions left to be made on the operations side that can make a new organization sink or swim. This is especially true if you have employees who are counting on your leadership to grow a successful business.
To share their insights, nine Young Entrepreneur Council members each discuss one common operational mistake leaders make when first starting out that can jeopardize the future of their business. If you’re concerned about your startup’s success, read on to learn how these entrepreneurs recommend avoiding these common errors.
1. Failing To Build Culture
Startup culture is very focused on “move fast and break things,” and many founders tend to hire rapidly and throw bodies at problems, without checking in with staff and making sure to care about their people’s professional development. These founders usually end up spending much more time fixing internal conflicts than running the company. Founders should decide on five to 10 top cultural values, ask employees for input, hire candidates who can uphold these values and make sure to incorporate these values into performance reviews. One thing I found helpful is to also schedule one-on-one meetings with every person in the company on the first day for every new employee. – Chenyu Ren, Markai, Inc.
2. Lacking Clear SOPs For New Employees
Lacking clear, consistent and accessible standard operating procedures (SOPs) for new employees jeopardizes any growth for a company. When training new employees, if the seasoned people need to essentially halt their normal day-to-day work and sit side by side for an extended period, it hurts everyone. If there are clear SOPs in place that the new hire can access, not only is their trainer going to be better able to manage existing workloads, but the employee will also build much more agency and confidence of their own. If you’re trying to scale without clear SOPs, employees will struggle to feel valued and the company will see high turnover. As existing employees see people coming and going, their morale then drops, the hiring process starts over and issues compound. – Liam Leonard, DML Capital
3. Hiring The Wrong People
Hiring the wrong people is a big mistake a leader can make when starting out. You need to get recruitment right and be very clear on the role for which you are going to hire so that you can hire the right people for the job. Don’t rush into hiring; instead, take your time and evaluate all your candidates. When you do hire someone, make sure you support them in getting started. Define their role and communicate what you expect from them. Give them regular feedback to keep them on track. This will ensure that all your hiring efforts are not in vain. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
4. Neglecting Employees’ Individual Skill Sets
A common mistake is not letting employees excel in what they’re good at and forcing them to do what you want. (Of course, within reason.) Each employee brings a unique skill set to your company. The gold nugget is discovering those individual skills and then giving your employees the autonomy to develop them independently. You’ll find that if you can do this, your employees will be happier, they’ll work harder and you’ll make more money. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
5. Not Developing A Road Map
The most common mistake new operation managers make is they don’t develop a long-term plan. A business road map can help you determine what small steps will help you eventually reach your goals. Failure to have a plan could put your business at risk because no one has a clear sense of direction. This situation could lead to confusion, loss of productivity and unhappy employees. I suggest sitting down once a year and creating a plan for the next three years. You may need to adjust your original plan the following year, and that’s okay! What’s most important is that you have a general blueprint to follow on your journey. – John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC
6. Doing Everything On Your Own
There is no reason to reinvent the wheel when there are resources out there like templates, checklists and standard operating procedures by similar companies. When I first started my law firm, I made the mistake of creating everything from scratch, and later I met mentors who gave me better versions of what I created. Had I reached out earlier and ignored my belief that I had to do everything on my own, I could have saved myself a lot of time and creative energy. Now I take a draft of a template somebody else started and edit it with my own personal touches to create a work product that is specific to our clientele and our company needs. – Givelle Lamano, Lamano Law Office
7. Lacking A Clear Vision
One common operations mistake that leaders sometimes make is not having a clear plan for the future of their business. This can easily jeopardize the future of the business because it can lead to making decisions that are not in line with the company’s goals. Without a clear plan, it can be difficult to make informed decisions about where to allocate resources and how to grow the business. This can eventually lead to the business failing. Therefore, it’s very important to have a clear plan for the future of your business before making any decisions that could potentially jeopardize its success. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
8. Failing To Track And Record Everything
The failure to track and record everything, including onboarding instructions, login details, product ideas and other organizational data is a big mistake. The latter (data) is important to track, parse and understand. A company operating without properly tracking and evaluating historical data won’t understand where it’s coming from and know where it needs to go next. It’s important to start this organization from day one because a good foundation at the start will make for solid decision-making later. – Andy Karuza, NachoNacho
9. Sticking To An Old, Familiar Process
One common mistake leaders tend to make in operations is sticking to a set process and workflow that they’re familiar with. It may have worked in your previous venture or job. It may also work in the starting stages of your company. But once processes are in place, leaders tend to leave them even if they are detrimental to the growth of the company. For instance, they spend too much time on administrative tasks that could now be automated and they end up neglecting areas with high growth potential. First, you need to find what works best for your business. As you grow, you should periodically review and revise your current processes to see if your team is doing fine or whether they need better tools, automation, strategies and workflows. – Benjamin Rojas, All in One SEO