3 Things Every Entrepreneur Should Do

Recently an entrepreneur asked what he should be doing to make his company better in 2017. I asked a few questions about the long term, the short term, and challenges right now. Quickly, it became clear that there were some foundational basics that needed to be done.

Here are three things every entrepreneur should do:

These are some basics but the majority of entrepreneurs don’t do them. Be among the best and follow these three best practices.

What else? What are some other things every entrepreneur should do?

The Daily Huddle

Over the years I’ve talked about the benefits of a daily huddle/scrum and it’s just as relevant today as 10 years ago. The premise is simple: get everyone together once a day and answer three simple questions:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What are you going to do today?
  • Do you have any roadblocks?

Pretty simple, right? This process is partly about the questions and mostly about connecting as a team. Between those questions there are a thousand nuances and details that come out. Connecting as a group is powerful, and communication is key.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the daily huddle?

2017 Simplified One Page Strategic Plan

Continuing with yesterday’s post Time for 2017 Budgets, it’s also time to get the 2017 Simplified One Page Strategic Plan ready. The goal with the plan is to align everyone in the company around a simple, straightforward document that outlines the most important things in a concise manner. Too often, the entrepreneur runs around with a number of great ideas in his or her head and doesn’t realize that everyone else in the organization doesn’t see what they see. Communication and alignment takes work; start with a simple plan.

Here are the contents of the Simplified One Page Strategic Plan (Google Doc template and example plan):

Purpose

  • One line purpose

Core Values

  • General – fit on one line
  • People – fit on one line

Market

  • One line description of your market

Brand Promise

  • One line brand promise

Elevator Pitch

  • No more than three sentences for the elevator pitch

3 Year Target

  • One line with the goal

Annual Goals

  • 3-5 annual goals in table format with the start value, current value, and target value

Quarterly Goals

  • 3-5 quarterly goals in table format with the start value, current value, and target value

Quarterly Priority Projects

  • Three one-line priority projects with the percent complete for each

 

That’s it — simple yet powerful. Check out the Simplified One Page Strategic Plan Google Doc template and take a look at an example plan. Good luck!

What else? What are some more thoughts on the Simplified One Page Strategic Plan?

The Importance of Leadership

With all the talk in the news lately about presidential candidates, it’s a good time to reflect on leadership and what it means to be a leader. Here are nine posts on leadership:

  1. John Maxwell’s Five Levels of Leadership
  2. Leadership Book Review: The Secret
  3. Leadership is Not Speaking Over Others
  4. Repetition is Key in Leadership
  5. 2 Action Items Going from Doer to Leader
  6. Leadership Development Questions from The Secret
  7. Great Leaders Simplify Complexity
  8. Consensus or Leader-Led Decision Making in Startups
  9. The Four Essential Competencies of a Leader

From Warren Bennis, here are the four essential competencies of a leader:

  • Leaders are able to engage others by creating shared meaning
  • All authentic leaders have a distinctive voice
  • All true leaders have integrity
  • The most important competency is adaptive capacity — this is what allows leaders to respond quickly and intelligently to relentless change

What else? What kind of leader are you?

CEO and COO Roles in a Startup

One of the questions I’ve heard several times over the years is how we divided responsibilities between CEO and COO at Pardot. We tried several different approaches over the years before settling into a routine that felt right for our size and stage. Here’s how we divided things:

Some startups have an approach where the COO manages the functional areas and then reports to the CEO, but I’ve found this divide-and-conquer approach to be more common. Every startup is different, so it’s important to figure out what works best for your organization.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the CEO and COO roles in a startup?

Quarterly Employee Check-in Process

With it being near the end of the quarter, it’s a good time to revisit the idea of a quarterly employee check-in or lightweight quarterly performance review. When the startup is small, this can be overkill, but as it grows, this is critical. At Pardot, we kept things simple and answered these four questions every quarter in a Google Doc:

  1. What did you accomplish this quarter? (List top 5-10 accomplishments)
  2. What 3-5 goals will you focus on next quarter?
  3. How can you improve?
  4. How are you embracing the company values? (Please provide specific examples.)

Pretty easy, right? Once the doc was done, the manager and direct report met for 30 – 45 minutes to talk through it, and the manager provided any coaching or feedback.

Entrepreneurs would do well to implement a quarterly employee check-in process as the startup grows.

What else? What are some more thoughts on a quarterly employee check-in process?