Anne K. Halsall, CPO and co-founder of Winnie, on Quora.
It is impossible to say which is the biggest challenge, because every business has its strengths and weaknesses. However, the only thing with which almost every start-up has to count is the organizational debt .
It is true that it is difficult to find a product or a market, that fundraising is difficult, that growth is difficult and so on. But intelligent and skilled teams can and must solve these problems. Org debt is a human problem which makes it inherently messy, unpredictable and unlikely to have a solution ready for use.
Here are some common situations that lead to the debt of the organization:
- The founders (rightly) fear the conflicts from the early stages, also they hire people like them or are from their personal networks. They put the work of culture and organization back on a consistent team where everyone thinks and acts the same way. Until they do not do it.
- The founders may have their own form of organic debt when they do not clearly agree on the role or capabilities of each other . Ruptures between founders are the worst case, but even when they come together, this type of debt can be toxic because it affects everyone.
- Knowing that time is of the essence, companies cut corners on things like 1: 1, mentoring, the hiring process, and performance appraisals. You can have a perfectly functional team without these things, but assuming this debt creates opportunity for you to be blinded when a big problem happens.
- "We do not believe in titles." Commonly used to get around the question of who is reporting who, who is doing more, and who is winning when there is a fight. Postponing this problem means that you will have to do it later when there are 25 people on the organization chart instead of 5.
- Finally, the founders (and other business leaders) are really busy people in the first companies. They collect funds, do the press, write code, recruit, occupy human resources + legal + accounting, marketing, customer service … you get my drift. Sometimes they fail to take the time to feed the human side of what they're building.
I do not want to cast on the founders who made some of these choices. I've made a few myself. Like technical debt, it is good to assume a small debt, as long as you have a good reason and plan to deal with it before it ruins your life.
Every young company, like every young person, will have its own growing pains, triumphs and traumas. You probably can not prevent them or predict them all. Just know that too much organizational debt is very expensive – loss of talent, loss of morale, recruitment difficulties and massive logistical problems when you have to evolve your business from a small team of 6 or 7 to an organization. functional of tens or hundreds of people.
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