Thursday, December 25, 2008

~50 rules of thumb for startups

I’ve worked with many startups over the last decade.

When you are in a position where you can view multiple organizations with an outsider's perspective, you get pretty good at identifying both good and bad patterns of management and business practices. This blog focuses more on the tragic patterns that are often signs of impending doom. If you've ever read Barbara Tuchman's The March of Folly, you will see that this is the business version addressing suicidal business processes.

The following represents my observations and opinion.

  1. Compartmentalized inter-company communication
    When teams are separated by walls, the writing is on the wall.

  2. A clear chain of command must be created
    A body cannot survive without a head.

  3. You can't have everything
    Opportunities are endless, development is fast-paced, life cycles are short. Adopting a modern, agile approach is imperative, but some startups jump from one business model to another in the struggle to stay relevant. There are generally no revenues earned from perpetual planning unless you are shooting for the Bubble method. Focus and tenacity can be the saving grace of corporate entropy.

  4. Simplicity over complexity
    ...even if it's at the expense of having fewer features. If you try to roll out a product that does "everything" you will be in development purgatory. Roll out your feature-simple product and build it in user-tested iterations. Feature creep is a  huge burden on your resources. I'll provide some real life examples of these concepts at my next blogging cycle... to be continued...

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