As we’re all winding down 2018 and looking ahead to 2019, we wanted to recap some of the biggest lessons and tips we’ve learned over the last year for entrepreneurs who are developing products or managing product development teams.
Here we go:
- Set daily goals and always begin with a blank slate. Beginning every day with an unrealistically-long to-do list is exhausting and unmotivating. Treat each day as a new opportunity with new goals that are both measurable and achievable.
- Hire product and project managers who are capable of leading without acting like “the boss”. Find people who have the ability to lead without authority and can operate under extreme pressure.
- Work continually to help your team achieve a state of flow. Find out how you can help people get more into their work rather than trying to get more work out of individuals.
- Prioritize relationship-building with every single team member. Always remember to show authentic appreciation, do more listening than talking, acknowledge your own imperfections and shortcomings, and be completely transparent with those around you.
- Make sure you’re evaluating each team member individually, rather than assuming everyone is on the same path. Develop a framework that works for your organization but also allows for a customized approach based on an individual’s trajectory.
- Ensure you’re scheduling 1:1 time with each team member. During these meetings, ask open-ended questions that are specific enough to help you figure out what they need to be successful. For example, “What’s harder than it should be?”
- Take the time to either create or update your company SOP’s and operating principles for the upcoming year. If you want everyone to follow the same decision-making framework, this is absolutely essential.
- If you don’t have a 5-year plan, it’s time to make one. Where are you right now, and where would you like to be in the future? Establishing this plan will help you to create short-term goals that will facilitate meeting the longer-term ones. Involve everyone in this process, so that individual employees can see how their work is directly impacting the company’s success.
- Your employees are vital to your success, so ensure you’re measuring and tracking the employee experience. Are you giving people what they need to be happy and successful in their roles? You can’t measure what you don’t track.
- Make mentoring an established practice that is organization-wide, and make sure you select the right people for mentoring. Assign mentors who emulate your own vision for personal growth and development. For example, don’t choose mentors that are risk-averse if you want your employees to be comfortable taking risks and pushing boundaries.
- Encourage your team members to proactively schedule alone time early each week, so they can have time to focus and get clear on the week’s work and objectives.
- Allow people outside your target audience to use your product, in the name of aiming to achieve cognitive simplicity. Are people of all ages and statuses able to figure out what your product does without being told? Intuitive design is a core factor that impacts the success of any product, so challenge yourself and your team to develop products that are as simple to use and understand as humanly possible.
- For each project, determine whether your product will require a go-to-market strategy that is focused on marketing or sales, as this will have an impact on your entire organization. When you consider things like your product’s price, the market size, it’s complexity, customer fit, etc., you will be able to determine whether you need a marketing play or a direct sales approach to converting.
- Do not alienate yourself from the field as your business scales. Stay in touch with your customers and their needs by being there and truly understanding what they need from you.
- Make EBITDA your bible. If you want to become profitable, take this approach seriously and incorporate visual EBITDA updates into your regular communications. It’s one of the best ways to reduce burn and become profitable at a faster pace. It’s also another way to keep your staff in the loop and show them how their work is impacting the company.
As you look ahead to 2019, remember these tips to help steer your team in the right direction!