Tag Archives: priorities

Living on a budget

budgetI am not writing about my personal budget. Relax. This blog post is about the budgeting for a startup while you have extremely limited resources. Through the examples of my life I want to identify the main priorities for the budget planning.

During the last 4 years I had only one startup with a budget  formed from the external resources. This means that to cover our spending we had and still have to take cash from our (and our families) pockets. Also we are accountable to ourselves and we face issues when dealing with numbers. But lets start from the beginning.

When you are starting a new venture you usually run through the different phases:

  • Planning (idea setup, team formation, etc),
  • Building a product (development),
  • Building the audience (marketing, user base, suppliers, etc),
  • Rebuild/update (you got the feedback and you listened to it. So start updating!).

After the launch you also have to execute (monthly expenses). This means that you have daily/monthly spending’s.

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The main assets we have and operate

Hello everybody,

I was rarely posting during the last week. As you don`t want to hear about my daily routine. And as I had no time for anything else except work and football.. I wasn`t posting here. How ever the content returns! And it is related not only with startups, but with other business and daily life too. So:

As any project manager I always like to list for myself assets I currently have to achieve one or another task. The flow I was working on before was quite simple:

  1. Identify people and their availability (hours)
  2. Identify the budget
  3. Identify how you can use your stakeholders
  4. Identify and prioritize tasks (in a time constraint)

Simply I used to think what do I have to dedicate for a specific project and how much time is available.

Currently I have a bit changed mindset. I do not forget all those things above. How ever the main asset for me is trust/credibility. The idea is simple:

In a decision making process (to do something or not to do) I identify how much credibility “points” the action/project might earn or loose. Sometimes it is better not to make a risky action if you have a credible name. If you have no name – why to be afraid of risking? How ever do not take actions of which you will regret in the future. Eg. If you plan to invite few sluts to your opening party for media attention and you plan to become a biggest child crowd-sourced charity organization in future… Well you are fucked up right from this party. Or a marketing genius.

I do not take trust or credibility for granted. You can not expect that people will trust you for nothing. Or plan that they will be extremely suspicious about your actions (while actually they will love you). I try to get along with the stakeholders and find out what do they think about my project, organization and people (most important!).

Reinvest of trust is an action where the person/organization gets a second chance. If you do not valuate your trust – you keep reinvesting to the same burning “asset person/organization”. And you are/might be loosing again and again. I tend to give a second chance of a relative small amount. It means that the responsibility and potential affect to result is so small that fixing a second failure will not cost much for me. It is a second shot (a trust and nice action), but it is not as critical as returning a full trust (and responsibility) to somebody for a second time. Hope that he will not fail is really dangerous while you have a nice person (which is great. But I want to have a trustful professional!) in your team.

trust-politiciansI like (who doesn`t?) to find out as much as I can about my partners. And there I draw a line between their credibility and trust. A person can look trustful, how ever if I have doubts the credibility part is a decision making factor. It is a catastrophe (for me) trying to find out how much do I trust the person and to make a logical decision. How ever when it comes to credibility you have something to check, evaluate and rely on.

And don`t ever dream about the great results if there is no trust in your team. On a few harsh moments I lost faith in some team members. And in the end either I was wrong/overreacting or the person did not meet the team needs (was a nice person, but nothing more^^). In one case or another either affect was small or trust and credibility management was not implemented to decrease the risks.

So yeah, IMHO it is better to understand sooner then later that your startup business has a limited amount of trust and only by growing its credibility you can manage your activities best and attract other measurable resources “cheap”.

P.S. Sorry for the long post. It could be even longer!

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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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