Startups: not all fun and games
Startups, be they tech, retail, or service, dream of making it big time. Popped collars and fast cars motivate some, while financial independence motivate others, but in order to reach that point, all young brands have some major obstacles to overcome in getting to market, much less becoming a household name.
Devanshi (Nikki) Garg is the Chief Operating Officer of Icreon Tech, a global IT consultancy delivering business solutions and custom applications since 2000. Garg has years of experience in the startup world and tells AGBeat that there are five major sacrifices any startup will have to make if it wants to grow. In Garg’s words, below are the top sacrifices:
1. You have to give up complete control
Diving into a startup requires you to embrace chaos. Whether you’re the founder or one of the first hires, expectations about what aspects of your job you control should immediately go out the window. Invariably, most startups have too many things to do with too few people to complete them. This means you’ll need to exit your comfort zone, lest you quickly fall to the wayside. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is often quoted, “Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.” Members of startups need to be able to sacrifice their desire to have complete control over their day-to-day responsibilities and embrace the collective needs of the company.
2. Sacrificing your ego, and sometimes, your idea
All startups start out as ideas. However, for a startup to truly grow, members must be willing to sacrifice them and do so mercilessly. In a growingly entrepreneurial marketplace, the only certainty is competition, and ultimately, a bevy of competitors and pressures may require you to sacrifice the foundational idea your startup is built upon. Whether your ideas have been rejected by consumers or have been better executed by competitors, successful startups need to be able to pivot rapidly to avoid being rendered obsoletely. Just ask Bill Nguyen how important being able to pivot an idea is.
3. You’ll sacrifice your down time
For startups, it’s often a zero-sum game where the next day’s existence is not guaranteed. This means that your downtime is crucial to your startup’s success. Elon Musk recently stated during a Google Hangout with Richard Branson that, “you should be ready to work 100 hours a week”. If that sounds like too much of a sacrifice, you may not be cut out to achieve global success and notoriety. Establish the internal mindset that each and every hour is crucial, to not only your startups’ prosperity, but more importantly its survival.
4. Sacrificing financial security and stability
There are countless tales of entrepreneurs placing their entire life savings into their dream. While for some it pays off, for many it is the most stressful decision they can make. Pouring your heart and soul into a startup may not always be enough. Which is why many of today’s successful founders and CEOs have had to personally fund their projects. To help revive his near-failed dotcom era startup, Cvent CEO Reggie Aggarwal personally signed the lease for his company’s office building due to credit issues. This decision could have personally bankrupted Mr. Aggarwal, but instead he helped grow the company to 1,000 plus employees as of 2013. Although the light at the end of the tunnel may sparkle with monetary success, the journey to get there will have much less glitz and glam.
5. You’ll have to give up full ownership of your dream
Sweat, blood, and tears go into every startup. Taking your company to the next level often requires the involvement of outside venture funding and support. Identifying parties that believe in your startup is a crucial step forward. While the tradeoff involves having more stakeholders in your project and less personal ownership for yourself, this sacrifice is often one of the best ways to leverage a set of resources, (capital, technologies, or humans), that are extremely difficult to come by organically. Ultimately, it’s one of the biggest sacrifices to make for the sake of going from niche to mainstream and publicly recognizable.
Are you ready to sacrifice?
Tech blogs and news outlets glamorize the life of a startup, reporting on awesome offices and work perks, but the grunt work of being a founder of any company is often swept under the rug. Garg points out some of the top sacrifices any startup will have to make if it wants to scale, if it wants to grow. As an entrepreneur, are you ready to make the sacrifices necessary?
Employers, rules to keep safe from COVID changed again
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) COVID-19 “close contact” definition has changed, and it affects employers and employees. Here’s what we know (for now).
If you are an employer, this information is a must know! Recently, the Centers for Disease Control has redefined the term of being in “close contact” with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This new definition is one that will affect all group settings. The workplace is one of them.
Previously, a “close contact” individual was someone who was within six-feet during a 15-minute period of a person who tested positive for the virus. Now, “close contact” still requires the “within six-feet distance” scenario but broadens the 15 minute window criteria.
The new definition states that someone doesn’t need to have 15 consecutive minutes of interaction with a person who is confirmed to have COVID-19. A cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period can also consider someone as in “close contact”. And, everyone who is in close contact will still need to be tested for the virus and quarantine themselves.
This change goes hand in hand with a recent study published by the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The study details that a facility employee at a male correctional facility in Vermont tested positive for COVID-19. The confirmed case was reported to the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) on August 11, 2020.
The correctional officer came in contact with 6 inmates who had arrived from an out-of-state correctional facility on July 28. All the inmates were kept in a quarantine unit and tested for SARS-CoV-2 on that day. On July 29, all their tests came back positive. As a result, the Vermont Department of Corrections (VDOC) and VDH conducted a contact tracing investigation.
During the correctional officer’s eight-hour shift, video surveillance footage showed he only had brief encounters with the inmates. Although they weren’t consecutive, the officer interacted with the inmates for about 17 minutes total. During all encounters, the officer wore a microfiber cloth mask, gown, and goggles. The inmates didn’t always wear a mask. Also, the officer didn’t have any other exposure to people with COVID-19 out of work and hadn’t traveled.
On August 4, the officer started showing COVID-19 symptoms. On August 5, he got tested, and a positive result returned on August 11. Data shows that one of the inmates transmitted the virus to the officer.
So, what does this all mean? The previous and current definition isn’t quite yet set in stone. There is so much more to learn about the virus.
The new “close contact” definition is much broader so people who didn’t fall in this category before, probably do now. If employees are in the office, it is inevitable that they will have some sort of interaction. And, even if coworkers only have a 5-minute long meeting, three 5-minute meetings will still count if there is a case of COVID-19 exposure.
Employees should be informed of these changes to better trace any unfortunate virus cases. And, employers with less than 500 employees who fall under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) will need to “provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19”.
Streamline your collaboration and lighten your workload with Lyght
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Ventive is releasing a new collaboration tool that basically combines all your collaboration tools into one.
Ventive is a custom software development agency based in Boise, Idaho. Launched in 2014, the startup combines design and engineering to build digital products that will help businesses grow. The company has worked with big names like Aston Martin, Cisco (Broadsoft), HP, Simplot, and Coleman Homes. It has even made the Inc. 5000 List for 3 years in a row. And, as with any business, it faces the same hurdles all small and big companies face: Finding the right tool to help take an idea and turn it into a reality.
In a blog post, Ventive Product Manager Jeff Wheadon wrote that the company has used a variety of tools like JIRA, Toggl, Trello, and Slack to streamline and collaborate on projects. Soon they realized there was not a single tool solution that could help them “go above and beyond for their clients”. So, Ventive decided it was “time to shine a new Lyght on team collaboration” by creating their own tool.
Lyght is an all-inclusive team collaboration tool that removes wasted time used to switch between different communication and management applications. It is designed to Make Work Simple. Make Work Flow.
In the tool, you can create a story for any project you want to build. These stories are designed for a smooth workflow, and you can collaborate with your team in each one. Conversation threads are visible in every story in real-time so everything is organized together. Tasks can be assigned by due dates and time budgets. You can even allocate a certain number of hours to a specific project so you can “determine bottlenecks in your team”.
You can also review the team’s time logs to gain insights on performance. A personalized dashboard lets you see recent activity and time spent across projects. Boards easily display the current state of each assignment. And, Backlogs let you organize and prioritize stories from your custom workflow.
Although Lyght started as an internal management tool for Ventive, the company isn’t just keeping the software for itself.
“After doing some additional market research, we found that there are many other companies across different industries looking for a similar tool that is lightweight and easy to use, yet robust enough to work with their own business processes,” wrote Jeff.
Since its creation, Lyght has gone through 3 iterations. Currently, the company is offering a private beta to entrepreneurs and teams. It plans on implementing the feedback it receives so the tool can “change and flow with the needs of the industry.” According to a Facebook post, Ventive is preparing for a public release of the software later this year.
Lyght brings together task management, collaboration, chat, and time tracking into a single solution. And, if you’d like to give it a try, you can schedule a demo on the company’s website.
How to effectively share negative thoughts with your business partner
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) You and your business partner(s) are in a close relationship, and just like a marriage, negative emotions may play a role in the relationship.
You and your business partner are in a relationship. Your business was born when you shared a common vision of the future and became giddy from the prospect of all you could do together that you couldn’t do alone. Now, you spend much of the day doing things together in collaboration. The stakes are high; there are obstacles to overcome, decisions to make together, deadlines to meet, and all the stresses of running a business.
It’s no wonder a business partnership can often be just as complicated and emotional as a romantic relationship. If you are struggling with your business partner, you might find helpful advice in resources originally targeted towards troubled couples.
Relationship expert Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein has explored how to share “toxic thoughts” with your partner. In a linked article, Bernstein describes toxic thoughts as distortions of the truth that cause us to overemphasize the negative attributes of our partner.
Some examples of toxic thoughts include blaming your partner for larger problems that aren’t really their fault, inaccurately assuming your partners intentions, or resenting your partner for not intuiting your needs, even if you haven’t expressed them. The defining characteristic of these toxic thoughts is that, although they may be based in the truth, they are generally exaggerations of reality, reflecting our own stresses and insecurities.
Just as much as in a love relationship, these toxic thoughts could easily strain a business partnership. If you find yourself having toxic thoughts about your business partner, you will need to decide whether to hold your tongue, or have a potentially difficult conversation. Even when we remain quiet about our frustrations, they are easily felt in the awkward atmosphere of interpersonal tension and passive aggressive slights that results.
Dr. Bernstein points out that being honest about your toxic thoughts with your partner can help increase understanding and intimacy. It also gives your partner a chance to share their toxic thoughts with you, so you’d better be ready to take what you dish out. It might be hard to talk about our frustrations with each other so candidly, but it might also be the most straightforward way to resolve them.
Then again, Bernstein points out, some people prefer to work through their toxic thoughts alone. By his own definition, toxic thoughts are unfair exaggerations of and assumptions about our partner’s behavior. If you find yourself jumping to conclusions, assuming the worst, or blaming your partner for imagined catastrophes, perhaps you’d better take a few minutes to calm down and consider whether or not it’s worth picking a fight about. Then again, if you’re self-aware enough to realize that you are exaggerating the truth, you can probably also tease out the real roots of any tension you’ve been experiencing with your business partner.
If you are going to get personal, shoulder your own emotional baggage and try to approach your partner with equal parts honesty and diplomacy. Avoid insults, stay optimistic, and focus on solutions. State your own feelings and ask questions, rather than airing your assumptions about their intentions or behaviors. Keep your toxic thoughts to yourself, and work towards adjusting the behaviors that are making you feel negatively towards each other. Your business might depend on it.
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