Starting a business is exciting, but it often comes with many risks and uncertainties. For most entrepreneurs, having a trusted resource when problems arise can often be the very element needed to achieve game changing success.
“Ask the Expert”, our biweekly feature designed especially for startups, invites North Texas industry thought leaders to share helpful advice and strategies with current and aspiring business owners.
Rebekah Cole is an Associate at Point B, a management consulting firm that assists clients in developing strategic insights and translating them into impact. The company serves organizations from visionary start-ups to Fortune 100 companies across a wide range of industries, including healthcare, technology, retail and public sector.
Rebekah has over six years of experience in business and technology related projects across a diverse industry portfolio. She has proven success in leading transformative technology solution projects, with a passion for strategic business intelligence and management initiatives. Rebekah is excited to support business leaders bringing their vision to life, making a difference for their customers and employees.
The Founder’s Dilemma
By Rebekah Cole
The concept of balance in the startup world is almost laughable. While it might be a frequently discussed topic, there are limited solutions provided. From multiple shifts, late nights, and long weekends, you are pouring your heart, soul, and energy into building your business. These hours do not even include the mental energy spent while thinking about work when you are technically away from the office. In leading the charge, consider the example you are setting for your team. What messages are you sharing through your time prioritization?
Jack Welch presented the dilemma this way: “There is no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices and you make them – and they have consequences.” One of the most important rules of life is to take care of yourself first, in order to take care of those around you. To build a sustainable team, weigh these principles in line with your intended business achievements. It will translate into the type of individuals you need to cultivate on your team. As a founder, what behaviors do you desire reflected in those working for you?
Three (Intangible) Characteristics of a Balanced Team
Ability to set limits: to avoid the proverbial burnout, you should seek to build a team that does know how to set limits with clients, customers, and colleagues. The team should feel empowered to do so by your example. What type of culture would generate if the response to increased workloads included a pause to evaluate the commitment before immediate agreement? Burnout does not have to be inevitable. This is one of the most important characteristics of strong self-care management but again, starts at the top with you.
Build meaningful relationships: as intuitive as it sounds, ensuring your team builds a support peer network requires intentional effort. Investing in meaningful relationships will help advance the business goals and the team’s personal objectives. You can support this through your example of supporting time allocation for your team for this purpose, full or partial funding of appropriate expenses, and highlighting or rewarding the completion of such activities.
Identify meaningful work: we have all experienced the drudgery of a required activity that is far from ideal. Most desire work that is equally rewarding and exciting. Sometimes, your team will need to engage to bring this ideal to life. Consider embedding creative avenues to periodically assess task allocation and see if there are opportunities to make changes between teams. Frequently review standing meetings for relevance and collaboration platforms for usage. Every member of your team should be able to articulate the mission statement of your business (and your clients!) with a clear understanding of how their work accomplishes it.
We can attend countless seminars, read blogs, purchase books on the topic but achieving a realistic balance in the startup world begins with you. Consider what one small step you can take on each of the above three characteristics in your example. Make today Day One, instead of waiting for one day, to cultivating your dream team.
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