Monthly Archives: September 2013

Scaling on up…

When a business is in its start up phase its simple; The entrepreneur is involved in every aspect of the business and most everything can be done by the boss. Save for some exceptions and the cases of selling the skills of the entrepreneur as a professional service, this period of innocence is usually (hopefully) short lived and is followed either by sudden death or the need to scale up. If you are at the threshold of turning from a small business to a medium sized enterprise here are some tips for paving your way into a smooth transition.

Get a loyal core team – Your business is entering a phase where it is going to be harder and harder to personally pay proper attention to everyone that comes and goes. Know who your loyal team is and never forget that loyalty is a two way street. Don’t spare any time or resource to get to know your core team and invest into their development. This will show a genuine dedication and will be rewarded generously.

Trust, delegate and switch from visual to instrument flight – If once you knew every customer and the entire history and nuances of their purchase, it is not humanly possible to have this information in your head and deal with situations when you have tens of thousands of customers. This means that you have to delegate not only tasks but also the authority to make decisions. Beware of the entrepreneur’s tendency to micromanage. You will feel like you can do things better than everyone else but you are probably wrong, nobody will do things exactly as you would but at the end of the day they will probably do a great job in their area of expertise and let you focus on actually running and growing the company.

Getting good people on-board – Its cute and all when you are the smartest person on board when you first launch your company but you should be working on changing this very early on by coming in contact with and attracting talented people as early as possible. If you have tens of thousands of customers and your turn over is in the millions and you are still the smartest person at the company then start worrying, you are probably not running at optimal thrust and are headed for stalled growth in the near future. Go to events, network, advertise and interview. Get smart people on board, you will find a use for them.

Invest into technology – You don’t have to build software yourself but no matter what you do, even if you are in a more traditional branch like pharma or real estate, every business needs good software to run on. Your software will always be the most scalable part of your business, so when you are ready to scale up be sure to have a stellar software backbone.

Identify the gaps that affect the quality of your service or product and build systems to plug the big holes – If quality assurance is an unknown discipline to you now is a good time to get to know it. Remember, quality pays for itself and is the only option for a business that plans to be around for a while. Learn how to perform root cause analysis, implement systems for continuous improvement with corrective and preventive actions, perform risk analysis and listen and react to your customers’ complaints.

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Of products and product managers

The New Normal in Marketing
by Khachik Badeyan

Management

Gone are the days when a boss would sit in an armchair in his cozy room isolated from his employees who are just a cog in the mechanism generating money for the former. What matters nowadays is the team and the management.

A good manager is the one who can outsource as much routine and repetitive tasks to his employees and respective departments as possible. However in the case of CEO or any high rank manager even that is not enough as there is a need to monitor all the job done and the product progress. If we look even further – when a new project starts the high rank managers won’t have enough time to monitor all change and keep up with the daily tasks.

Who are Product Managers?

Product managers are people who grow products, whose each decision is based on numbers, on analytics and logical reasoning. The product is their sun and they revolve around it. Their sole goal is the product growth.

Every product manager has KPIs and all of them unite in one term named growth.

What is Product?

As stated by Simon Sinek in his why/how/what presentation at TED it does not matter what you offer to people, if you don’t know why they should want have it, and how you shall make the product exist and deliver them to customers. A product is the feeling, an urgent need to have the thing a company can offer.

Companies shall never proceed to thinking about how to deliver a commodity to the customer before

  1. creating an itch or finding a pain that troubles many
  2. putting the product there to comfort those
  3. creating an emotional bond

Product Growth.

No matter what is the product and what are the KPIs of a product thes 3 steps are crucial to every growth strategy

  • Getting Visitors
    make people see your product
  • Activating Members
    make people take action
  • Activating Users
    make people believe in your product

The most important for doing the above of course is having the right data and the right tools to analyse it. Implementing the analyitics is one of the most important tasks of a product manager.

A thing to remember – product manager without numbers is a disaster.

The Team

The 2 cornerstones of hiring:

  1. CEOs hire Product Managers who know more than them.
  2. Product Managers hire those who know what they don’t and do what they don’t (want to) do.

The big problem with old style business was that only people with lower than the employer qualifications would be hired (mostly). But the progress shows that managers shall hire people from whom learning something is possible.

Automation

The next big piece in this game is the time management. The product manager shall automate whatever actions is possible (paying bills, sending response emails to customers, shipping) and outsource as much action to his employees as possible.

Often employees need to decide whether to accept the money transaction or the refund dispute or reject it? In the old style business all employees need permission from superior officers. The new business on the other hand won’t work like that: employees shall inherit a part of the decision making permissions from higher ranked personnel. The last also creates ground for the employees to grow both as professionals and business owners (by the means of being part of the decision making process).

Product manager suggests but does not force. All in all the best Product Manager is the one who leaves the company and nothing breaks.