I've been watching and helping entrepreneurs build their businesses for decades. Not surprisingly, I often get asked, especially by first-time entrepreneurs, what's most important when growing a startup. I believe that are three essential rules:
1. Create a Flexible Culture
Regardless of what anybody (including the founder) does, an organization will acquire an organizational culture. If you don't create one intentionally, your company can get "organization cancer"--a culture that eventually kills the company.
There are eight aspects to corporate culture, which I describe in the most popular column I've ever posted on Inc.com: "8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses."
Here's a quick look at the three most important aspects:
2. Protect Employees from Politics
Human beings are political animals. We form easily into cliques and opposing sides. When you're growing a company, though, that natural tendency to indulge in political behavior can slow your growth.
One of your goals as a manager should be to handle political issues before they affect the productivity of your employees. You want people thinking about the tasks in front of them, not playing "who's in" and "who's out".
Here's a summary of what's needed from you:
3. Don't Work So D*mn Hard
There's not question that starting your own business is hard work, especially when you're expanding and hiring. What's most important at this stage is to keep yourself from getting cranky because you're working harder than anybody else.
Ignore this rule and you'll start screwing up. Too many things will fall through the cracks. You'll explode into anger during meetings. Or you'll bottle it all up like a pressure cooker.
Here are some quick suggestions to help you relax and enjoy the process.