Showing by category: Startup Best Practices

What To Look For In a Chief Right Hand Person (COO, VP of Operations)
Last week a founder of a software development company asked what to look for in a COO on answers.onstartups.com. Since this is a fairly common question to me, I decided to expand upon the answer I posted and further describe what attributes a great business operations leader/professional should possess. Bit of background: I have been in operations for almost my entire career and have had some incredible mentors along the way. I spent 2+ fun years heading operations for an awesome software development company that we grew to 120+ employees by the time I had to move. It was an honor serving some of the smartest software development professionals in the market. Before that I had pleasure gr[more]
Lessons Learned: 4 Rules for Making it as a Young Entrepreneur
Six months ago, I was fresh out of a one year entrepreneurship master’s degree program and looking to join a startup or maybe start one of my own… I really didn’t know.  Finding your way when you’re a young, aspiring entrepreneur isn’t easy; there’s a lot of thrashing, uncertainty and mistakes.  Embrace this. Those scars will make you stronger and people will notice if you make things happen. Of all the advice anyone could give an entrepreneur getting started, the one I think matters most is to HUSTLE. As a young person, the best thing you can do is Hustle.  It’s the one advantage we have over those older than us that have that infamous word…Experience.  Hustle can [more]
Perfecting Your Way to Irrelevance – Six Sigma in the Startup
In the late 90’s, the Six Sigma quality improvement process swept through the corporate world, led by early and vocal adapters such as Motorola and GE.  For those who are not familiar with Six Sigma, it is a process for making significant quality improvements through a rigorous five-step data- and statistical-based approach (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control).  The siblings of Six Sigma, such as Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) and Lean Six Sigma, expand its applicability to new product design and manufacturing flow. You can immerse your products from cradle to grave in the Six Sigma process to achieve total quality control nirvana. While this may be great if you have the resour[more]
5 Rules for Avoiding the Need to Cut Costs
“Cutting costs” has been the buzz phrase for the last decade or so. In some cases, companies got drunk on cheap money and plentiful investors, and in others the unchecked management flaws of greed and vanity led to company bloat. Whatever the root cause, we seem to be only treating the symptoms of the problem. We first look at our staff for the “fat”, then our business process, then… well by then it is usually too late. Although I have mastered the art of cutting costs, I am very aware of the reality: you can’t cut/lose fat without cutting into muscle. So instead of treating the symptoms, how do we avoid the root cause of wasteful spending? #1. Never give anyone anything yo[more]
Dangers of Big Titles
In 2007, I was interviewing with a later stage stealth startup in Boston. During my conversation with one of the co-founders, I asked about her title. Her answer has stuck with me to this day. She said: "if you are in a startup and have a title, you are not doing enough work"! This sentiment resonated with me and made me think about why big titles are so dangerous. I have worked for several very innovative "flat hierarchy" companies, where titles were irrelevant, that had rapid growth fueled by passionate employees who always went above and beyond to make customers happy. It is no surprise that at one company we had a 95% customer referral rate and the most loyal customers I have seen in [more]
How a Foosball Table Can Kill Your Startup – part 2
Since an article I wrote in June of 2009 called “How a foosball table can kill your startup” is still sparking attention and conversation, I think the time is ripe for me to expand on the topic. Yes, I still believe that tchotchke “benefits” do nothing but waste money.  Instead, use your resources to attract new, retain your best talent, and improve your team’s happiness. Here are additional issues for us to consider: If we tracked the usage of Guitar Hero setups, foosball tables, pinball machines, etc., we would see that utilization of them is not really worth their cost and the rent we pay for the space they take up. Often the toy/activity choice we make is driven b[more]
Beefing Up Your Lean Marketing
Guest blog post by Greg Strosaker As the The Operations Guy blog grows, I want to start bringing in other subject matter experts to help better serve my readers. Therefore, I am very excited to introduce Greg Strosaker as my first guest contributor. Greg, who previously worked for 13 years with General Electric as an engineer, has spent the past four years heading up marketing at several small- to mid-size material and industrial equipment firms.  Greg also runs the Constant Cogitation blog, where he discusses marketing, strategy, and leadership topics. Since my last post drew some attention from the marketing folks (and struck a nerve of those who refuse to grow and evolve), I wante[more]
We don’t need marketing – we need customer anthropology
I wasn’t able to make it to LaunchCamp Boston today, but was still able to virtually participate via the live video and Twitter streams. During a discussion on Twitter with two great marketing folks, Bobbie Carlton and Rachel Levy, I made several remarks: Seasoned marketing pros should realize that “marketing” is becoming a dirty word (right behind PR) and evolve. Marketing pros should stop fighting the fact that branding, PR, communications, content creation, “websites”, etc. are no longer being recognized as part of the marketing silo. Businesses don’t need marketing teams, they need customer listeners/conversationalists who are deeply involved in customer anthrop[more]
Customer service in the age of the social media
I can’t claim I was early social media adopter, but I have been on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for a while now and built a following.  I have met the majority of my followers in person. I am also not shy about reviewing businesses on Yelp and other sites, because I believe both positive and (especially) constructive negative feedback can improve businesses. We have seen some massive changes in the last decade as the impact of word of mouth has grown exponentially as each new communication platform became mainstream. While a story of poor customer service experience used to rarely travel beyond a close circle of family and friends, everything has changed now that we have entered the[more]
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