In a recent workshop for entrepreneurs at Bangalore, India, I had the pleasure of interacting with over 40 invested founders. They were all energetic and raring to go from the word ‘start’. We spent the day, reducing breaks to the minimum, discussing over lunch, and stretching the day till I had to necessarily leave so as to not miss my flight. We discussed issues around sales and marketing the entire day. While many discussions were around tools, techniques, approaches, etc, one entrepreneur (a lady) came up to me and said, “It looked like you spoke to me when you said, sales and marketing is all about discipline. If you declared the office time as 9am, why are you not in at 9 and how in the world do you expect to question others about being late.” She said it seemed too silly to be saying this, but as the team grows and the start-up is turning into a little business, resetting the culture is really becoming a challenge.
Her biggest action item was to start being in office at 9am everyday, more importantly speaking with her team about what needs to be accomplished that day and ensuring they re-look at it before they leave for the day. She said though they had reviews and goal setting sessions, they were random and people knew we would discuss a lot but never come back to check if we were working on them! This was leading them to catching errors too late and making course corrections after resources were spent.
While it looks so simple, most entrepreneurs and their teams never come together to discuss their to-do lists, their activities, etc. In the name of freedom, most of them end up discussing their plans like water cooler conversations.
Entrepreneurs don’t seem to realise the importance of routines till they are well into the game (a few years). I think that’s too much of a toll to pay for this learning. Apart from the business developing structural, cultural and discipline issues, so many entrepreneurs who have built small businesses have blood pressure, diabetes, and other lifestyle challenges by the time they reach mid thirties. This is not an interesting trend. Why does all this arise?
The answer is simple – a lack of routine.
Starting today ensure you as an entrepreneur establish some basic discipline in your start-up:
- People (including you) come in at the appointed time
- Every one shares their top 5 activities for the day
- A review happens often to know how things went
- Course correction happens to the plan based on review inputs
- People leave on time (except in extreme / exceptional situations)
- Everyone (including you) does some physical exercise
- Everyone (including you) sweats it out a little (literally)
Setting a set of tasks to be done, ensuring it is done, and reviewing the effects of the action are critical to every start-up. This does not happen because naturally no one wants a routine. But routine is the key to success.
Think about it!