Monthly Archives: October 2013

Working with Employed Team Members – CoFounders

Always have a time for beer with your team members!:)

As I wrote (or not) before, I have a great team for the JobRely. As for CraftsWorld I have a great cofounder and we are a team of two. In both cases my colleagues are also employees for some other companies and their main income is generated not from our activities (yet). As of this situation a lot of issues were/are raising. And these issues can kill the best idea you are working on if you are not careful with your team.

The main problem you are facing is dedication or priorities. Next thing that disturbs you is the availability of your team members (or some would call them resources) .  You want to have some rest or time for yourself at the evenings. And finally you start thinking – I dedicate more time so I deserve more. And if I would have a full time dedicated team – I would rule the world.

These thoughts were pooping popping up in my minds too. Sometimes I believed them, took them serious. And I was wrong. The problem lies in a team management, not where people work.

If a person works for a full time job and gets salary there – his main priority will be to stay safe, to earn a living, to pay the rent. The more professional team member you get, the less chances you have that he will quite his job to join your startup (till you are not able to pay a base salary). Who would risk on his family life? I wouldn`t. The bright side is that his experience lets him to do his work 2-3, sometimes 4 times faster then for an amateur. And he will do it professionally on his first attempt. Do you see? Your responsibility is to set the right priorities for him. And have realistic expectations.

Please note that you need team members more then they need you. And vice versa. This leads to a symbiosis where you steal some time of his working day, he steals some time of your evening rest. You and your team must agree on this. In my case we combine it as following: meetings in the evenings on Mondays, Skype calls on Thursdays, lunches on concrete topic during the week. Meetings on concrete topics after 4PM. And one weekend day per month with those who doesn`t have family.

When it comes to the time dedication I have one saying – “the value is not created by the time spent”. Myself I was accusing my cofounder of not dedicating the needed amount of time. We had some fights, bad emotions. After the time has passed I must agree that I was wrong. I didn`t set clear priorities what must be done first. Also I didn`t have a time buffer for not urgent but needed tasks. This leads to the fact that no matter how much time your team can dedicate it is up to you to set the right direction so actions would bring results.

To summarize: set the right goals, realistic expectations. Adapt the management style to your team reality. Constantly look what works, what doesn`t. If you need additional resources – find them. There are a lot of people willing to help you for free:).

The hope that “we will work it out” might become real for once, twice, but at the end it will not work. So don`t kill it because at the end of day you will be the one to be blamed. Not your team.

Tips? Well in each case they are different, how ever:

  • Set the same meeting day for each week. Set the time so you would have some space to make it longer (f.e. start from 6PM, not 8).
  • Have virtual talks more often. Pick up your phone and call more often too.
  • Get beer with your team not once or twice per year (tho do not make it a habit).
  • Use some task planning and progress measurement tools. Don`t use too sophisticated ones.
  • Be more human friendly. How ever keep the rules. One missed deadline is ok. One each one day for a week – you need to have a serious talk.
  • Don`t write long status updates. Use bullet points in your mailings. Even separate emails according to he need of people.
  • Use some kind of messenger that lets the participants to ignore the chat (Skype f.e.)
  • In this case micro management is not an option (IRT to last commenter. I read your comments^^). Overmicromanage and you will loose a member. Also your productivity will not be directed towards growth.

P.S. Some people said that I write too long. Isn`t this post too short?:))

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Distractions for a startup

Hi everybody. I was posting rarely lately. Got tons of work to do, therefor my priorities were changed to bad ones. Bad for you. And this happens because of the simple human nature – distraction and bad prioritizing (in the long term. It always looks that for the moment you choose the right priority.).

I always adore people who can do only one task. I also adore people who can effectively manage the information and task stream without any problems. And I hate the time when I am focusing on one task, how ever this stream comes over my head. And you have to say bye bye to your productivity. Or to your sleep. How ever you can identify in startup world quite a few areas from where the distraction comes.

Startup events was a major distraction for me. Was for a some time when I had a belief in: network, people, investors. During the events you tend to network everywhere, search for ideas, market validation. You seek for money as well. How ever the thing is that first you need to have a strong product. Then to have a strong team. Then you need to select the major events because you could run each day to a different evening. And you will meet the same people. The crowd usually in Lithuania is the same. The same people crash different events from time to time.

Outcome: You spend time with them, you get new ideas, new leads of which majority doesn`t work/are not needed till you finish what was started.

Startup gurus/wannabes fuckers are people who are always interested in what you are doing. They will be eager to meet you over and over again. They will be asking for ideas, feedback, information, status updates. Also you will get a huge load of “interesting” articles to read. From them, for free, for your time. And it is really easy to join the circle of meetings which leads nowhere. Just to mark ups in your notesbook which will be never 9 out of 10 times not used.

Solution: ban them. Ignore them. Add to the lists that helps ignoring them. And don`t be afraid to tell them to fuck off. In a polite or a mean way.

Colleagues who ask for a baby sitting. By baby sitting I mean micromanagement and coaching. You need to grow your team, how ever the best growth for them is while they do stuff. If you start micromanagement, if you have your colleagues lined up for advice – you basically do the job for them and instead of one man hour (the amount of work done by one person per one hour) you get two.

Outcome: you grow not the team members but robots who need to be instructed. Also you grow your workload. If this is happening – you are with the wrong people and rethink your team.

Investors & Contests are evil. Evil and destructive if you did not finished your other tasks you carry from before: development, analysis, processes management, etc.. It is really easy to be fooled by potential money and start doing things that are not so needed. You start renewing presentations, competitors analysis, development roadmaps, etc. You start meetings with your team to prepare for a meeting with an investor 1, investor 2, investor n… You are fooled by the light of gold in front of you. But it is a fools gold if the process takes too much of energy from you.

Suggestion: dedicate time period for investment & contests. Spend time only then. And don`t include in the action fool team. One person (or two) should do it all. Then other team members will be focused on the things that matters most – the growth of your product AT THIS MOMENT.

Clients from freelancing are demanding and evil too. They always need more time from you. They are also really righteous. Because they pay for you, because you are lazy/late/not so good at planning/can do things/whatever. They will climb over your head to get their product. And you will waste time communicating with them. Even if they were late at some parts.

Suggestion: set the rules at the beginning. Follow them and NEVER slip. If you slip once, the client will climb over your head from time to time. And will build a nest on your head. This nest of his problems, his needs will shadow your reach and really fast you can loose control of work for your startup. Even when you need the money from the client badly you still have options. But there is no option to stop/delay your project growth. Trust me.

Home (girlfriend/family, food, house cleaning, etc.) – the things that you are facing while working from home. And you will be doing works there, trust me. Home is a free workspace where evil distractions are everywhere. Your TV, your toilet (you have no clue how many books I`ve read there..:))), your fridge, your dirty bed, your bike that needs fixing… And it always takes time from you.

Idea: separate a working space for your self. I don`t have this option so I dedicated a corner in a kitchen. It is quite good, how ever my belly is growing. Football and cycling doesn`t help^^.

The only universal solution I found to work is to have a regime. Divide your day. Dedicate parts of day for specific kind of tasks. You don`t do specific things at specific time of day. And even if you have to prioritize something else – well don`t. Strong continuous walk straight to the target is better then fast dancing around. Or else when you dance to the point – somebody else will have his flag planted. And you will need a new target ^^.

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Electors Manifesto


This blog post will be unusual. I will not analyze or reflect my experience in startups. Today I am writing more about my view as an active citizen and as a person who votes. Votes with a belief for the progress. Votes with a hope that things will change for the good. And who gives his trust to some party/political figures.

I will try to polish during the days this manifesto. How ever please understand that this is important for all businesses. Fair and strong politics are key figures for the economical growth of a country. Also they (politics) set the rules for our playground in startups by pushing/changing different laws. And at the end we have either positive or negative impact to our (I mean small businesses/entrepreneurship/educational) growth. Continue reading

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