I'm working on setting up the organizational foundation of my startup (defining my startup's structure and who's in charge of what), but I'm lost because I'm not a management expert. What are the strategies/tools I should use to establish my company's structure?
Hi, so I've been part of multiple startups, successful and "failed". The pattern with most is that the originators of an idea tend to be the ones wanting to be the CEO... If the originator is a team, together you guys need to honestly answer each other questions such as:
1) who handles pressure better?
2) who is COMFORTABLE speaking to random people
3) and able to articulate clever responses and craft a pitch that hits the right spots to a variety of people. (This people could be in some sort of leadership/marketing- the vast majority of a startups effort goes to marketing and development)
4) Who is the technical person available to solve technical (or coding) problems?
5) who can bullshit their way through situations?
6) which one has sales experience? Training? Or management?
7) who is willing to work and earn the equity over a period of 1 or 2 years to be fully vested? Whoever is not, prob aren't as committed and thus shouldn't be on leadership..
8) does the team really need everyone on board full time?
9) putting ego aside, would your mom see you as a leader of others? Can you make tough decisions when needed? Or do you get pushed over?
A startup is an experiment, just because you structure things a certain doesn't mean your stuck with it. It's a mantra for a product and definitely more for the management. sometimes the ideators are not even the best option or is the leader the best CEO.
Best of luck.
I've been involved with multiple startup teams, and advised quite a few as well. Some teams work great, others not so much, and dependent on the team members themselves, structure can either be a bane or a boon.
One of my secret weapons for helping startup teams get moving without excessive structure is what I call "active triage" > Start pushing the jobs to do, every one of them across the board, into a single centralized list, accessible to all team members (unless there is something super confidential only certain people can address).
The key to this method is twofold:
1) Everything goes in one place, though you could have one list for each key area
2) Everyone is encouraged to actively take ownership of the tasks, by putting their name next to an item, and when it is done, recording the time took and that it is complete.
It sounds simple, but it is very very effective as it increases visibility, accountability and shows very clearly who is actively participating in the company, and who isn't.
You could implement this in a Kanban board, or Asana, or any of the project tools that are out there - It's not the tools that matter, it's the process.
Although this may not immediately solve your startup structure issue, it will absolutely provide you with insights into what is actually getting done, and who is doing it. Both vitals insights to ensure you get the balance right when you do get your structure together.
I'd be happy to have a quick call with you if there is anything I can help with.
As an entrepreneur myself, I know how difficult this can be :( But there is hope! :)
Keep in mind:
An organisational structure is never a solid and completed piece of work. Moreover, it remains flexible and adjustable as you grow and add new team members.
To get started, I would suggested the following approach:
(1) Determine whats already in place
Take a closer look at which positions are currently set and which roles will be needed in the next 3/6 months.
(2) Define which kind of organisational structure you wish to have
Hierarchical structure: A tall structure will have many different levels of employees all reporting upwards to team leaders and then up to operational management.
Flat structure: Flat organisational structure has fewer layers of management and wider spans of control. This means operatives can access and communicate with managers more easily and quicker. As a startup, this is what you want to achieve.
(3) Fill the typical top 5 roles, for example: (Depends on the type of startup)
Head of Engineering
I hope this will give a better overview of how to tackle this situation. Please let me know if you have any further follow up questions.
Here are some interesting links: